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Distributed development of large-scale distributed systems: the case of the particle physics grid

Kyriakidou-Zacharoudiou, Avgousta (2011) Distributed development of large-scale distributed systems: the case of the particle physics grid. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Developing a Grid within High Energy Physics for the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator is characterised as a highly collaborative, distributed and dynamic systems development effort. This research examines the way this distributed Grid is developed, deployed and provided as a service to the thousands of physicists analysing data from the Large Hadron Collider. The particle physics community has always been at the forefront of computing with a tradition of working in large distributed collaborations, therefore providing a "distinctive" case of distributed systems development practice. The focus of concern is the collaborative systems development practices employed by particle physicists in their attempt to develop a usable Grid. The research aims to offer lessons and practical recommendations to those involved in globally distributed systems development and to inform the information systems development literature. Global software development presents unaddressed challenges to organisations and it is argued that there is an urgent need for new systems development practices and strategies to be created that can facilitate and embrace the rapid changes of the environment and the complexities involved in such projects. The contribution of the study, therefore, is a framework of guidance towards engendering what the author defines as "Hybrid Experimental Agile Distributed Systems Development Communities" revealing a set of dynamic collaborative practices for those organisational contexts engaged in distributed systems development. The framework will allow them to reflect on their own practice and perhaps foster a similarly dynamic flexible community in order to manage their global software development effort. The research is in the form of an interpretative qualitative exploratory case study, which draws upon Activity Theory, and frames the Grid's distributed development activity as a complex overarching networked activity system influenced by the context, the community's tools, rules, norms, culture, history, past experiences, shared visions and collaborative way of working. Tensions and contradictions throughout the development of this Grid are explored and surfaced, with the research focusing on how these are resolved in order for the activity system to achieve stability. Such stability leads to the construction of new knowledge and learning and the formation of new systems development practices. In studying this, practices are considered as an emergent property linked to improvisation, bricolage and dynamic competences that unfold as large-scale projects evolve.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Avgousta Kyriakidou-Zacharoudiou
Uncontrolled Keywords: Global software development, agile development, collaborative practices, distributed teams, activity theory, grid computing, particle physics
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QC Physics
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Sets: Departments > Information Systems and Innovation Group
Supervisor: Venters, Will

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