Distributed computing

As noise models get larger, more people will be involved in creating and using them.  This will often require collaborative working by teams of people who may be at different locations.

NoiseMap offers two database storage technologies to meet these needs:

  • stand-alone (flat-file) database storage which is suitable for schemes with a small number of users who may have a standalone PC or network access to an ordinary file server and who do not need distributed calculations;
  • a powerful remote database system for huge schemes, perhaps containing hundreds of kilometres of roads or railways, or hundreds of scenarios; and organisations that work collaboratively and have users needing remote access.

Stand-alone databases
The stand-alone (flat-file) database does not use a specialist database server. It looks like an ordinary Windows file on your local computer or on a network drive.  It uses a database driver built into the NoiseMap system.  It does not require any special database server or any special administration. However, it does not control user access, or allow multiple concurrent users or distributed calculation via a calculation queue. Nevertheless it is a good option for projects with a limited number of users.

Remote server
The Remote Server option stores the model in an ‘industrial-stength’ database which will usually be remote from the user’s workstation.  The database engine may be located on a network or on the internet.  NoiseMap has a remote server hosted in the ‘cloud’ which can be accessed over the internet for a modest charge and is useful for those who do not wish to set up their own remote server.

Distributed Computing
A major benefit of the Remote Server system is the ability for many computers to share in the calculation load of large projects which may require many hundreds or thousands of tiles to be calculated.  With large schemes, this can take many hours of CPU time, so Distributed Computing allows other computers to share in the calculations thereby reducing the waiting time to a fraction of what would otherwise be required.

Is it worth getting the Remote Server Version?
All you actually need to pay for is the Server-side software, currently a one-off fee.  You can instal the server in an ordinary desktop (or even a lap-top) PC.  Ideally, though, you would instal the server-side software in a network server of some sort, so that it runs continuously and is always available to all users.

For convenience we also supply the MySQL server software, although this is a publicly-available free licence and you could download this yourself from the internet.

One essential part of the server-side software are the Adminstrator tools which allow you to create and manage the databases which NoiseMap uses.  They also let you set up User access to the databases and to backup and restore databases.

Another essential part of the server-side software is the Calculation Queue, which is perhaps the biggest advantage of the ‘Remote Server’ system. This allows users to store calculation requests in a queue, so that the calculations can be done at a convenient time, such as during a lunch break, overnight or over the wekend. The system is cleverly designed so that you can get many computers helping with the calculations and if one computer is slow or crashes, the other conputers will continue and complete the task.

It is very easy to put calculations into the queue, and you could have a slave computer that does nothing but wait until there are some calculations to do.  We even have a special low-cost licence for ‘calculation’ computers.

Because of this, even the smallest consultancy can benefit from a ‘Remote Server’ licence, if it does regular noise mapping work.