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Scientific Programming
Volume 14 (2006), Issue 3-4, Pages 209-216

Styx Grid Services: Lightweight Middleware for Efficient Scientific Workflows

J.D. Blower,1 A.B. Harrison,2 and K. Haines1

1Reading e-Science Centre, Environmental Systems Science Centre, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6AL, UK
2School of Computer Science, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF24 3AA, UK

Received 30 December 2006; Accepted 30 December 2006

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The service-oriented approach to performing distributed scientific research is potentially very powerful but is not yet widely used in many scientific fields. This is partly due to the technical difficulties involved in creating services and workflows and the inefficiency of many workflow systems with regard to handling large datasets. We present the Styx Grid Service, a simple system that wraps command-line programs and allows them to be run over the Internet exactly as if they were local programs. Styx Grid Services are very easy to create and use and can be composed into powerful workflows with simple shell scripts or more sophisticated graphical tools. An important feature of the system is that data can be streamed directly from service to service, significantly increasing the efficiency of workflows that use large data volumes. The status and progress of Styx Grid Services can be monitored asynchronously using a mechanism that places very few demands on firewalls. We show how Styx Grid Services can interoperate with with Web Services and WS-Resources using suitable adapters.