Let me start by saying how much I love Grid Computing. As a field, I think it is immensely promising, and I intend to dedicate at least the next year to furthering its aims. Why, then, should a Grid Computing exam present, as Gary put it, a scalable and heterogeneous fear?
Perhaps because it had never been examined before and we had no idea what to expect (other than a 100-mark-in-105-minutes-brutalising). Perhaps because the size of the course is best measured in the same terms as one might measure a horse. Perhaps because the software upon which is predicated—Globus—is so bad as to guarantee a knowing laugh from anybody who's ever used it. Perhaps because it drove Gary to drink.
There were probably other reasons, too. It was thus that Gary, Stu and I (and some other people) strolled into the exam hall today to meet our collective nemesis.
Question 1, for fifty marks. Virtual Organisations, Authentication (via Public Key Infrastructures), and Authentication (via PERMIS). That was rather more than I wanted to see on Virtual Organisations, whose description I could barely remember as I sat down to the paper, but there was at least a reasonable overlap between the security material and that which was in the sample exam.
Question 2, for fifty marks. The third pillar of OGSA, known to its friends as Data Management. This was a more bitty question than the previous, split into six parts. "List" is a good exam term, so is "describe the steps". The parts seemed to talk in general about Data Management, in particular about OGSA-DAI, and there was a cheeky seven-marker about provenance, which I'm not sure anyone truly appreciates (I certainly didn't). Also was there a rather specific question about the life sciences, which I didn't much like, but hopefully the life sciences community face much the same problems as anyone else using the Grid.
Question 3, for another fifty. When you sit as many exams as we do, you develop tactics for deciding which questions to answer and which to skip. Whilst it might not be possible to explain it, this was one of the questions always destined to be skipped. I don't think anybody's solved the problem of scheduling on the Grid, and I was damned if I was going to do it in fifty minutes this afternoon.
Anyway, it's pleasing to be on the other side of that exams. Only five more to go, starting with Security and Cryptography next week. So that gives you something to which to look forward over the weekend!