The NGS is always looking for ways to make grid software easier to use. We do not want to force people to learn new tools if they can use what is already installed on their desktops and laptops.
One approach we are investigating is "Drop-and-Compute".
The original idea for drop-and-compute came from Ian Cottam, an IT Manager with the Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences at Manchester. He wanted to users to be able to submit jobs simply by copying the relevant files to a local directory on their computer.
The approach chosen was to use DropBox - a service available to users of Windows, Macs and Linux can synchronise files between computers. DropBox can ensure that files on your local machine are made available to a central service and that any subsequent changes are copied back.
The original drop-and-computer was designed to run jobs on campus grids using Condor.
As part of the R+D effort, the NGS staff at the Oxford eResearch Centre are investigating if the service can be adapted to use our UI-WMS service - allowing jobs to be sent to any NGS partner site where there are free resources.
Development is far from complete - and there is much work to do on making the service work with the kind of security needed by a National Grid. It has advanced enough for a test service to be made available at Oxford for internal, and selected external, users.
[Original article incorrectly associated Ian Cottom with the MyExperiment project. The MyExperiment project host the drop-and-computer how-to on their Wiki.]