MOSES in major upgrade

Last week saw the US Army’s MOSES virtual environment, operated by the Simulation & Training Technology Center (STTC), out of Florida, undergo a major upgrade.

During Wednesday and Thursday the 26th & 27th October, the MOSES system was offline to enable the environment to be migrated to a new server platform and network with the capability to support thousands of regions.

Prior to the upgrade, participants in MOSES were advised to create full OAR backups of their estates as an additional safeguard against mishaps in the migration process. Users were also informed that post-migration, all of their landmarks would need to be deleted and replaced, as the MOSES world centre had been relocated to allow for future hypergridding activities.

The migration also gave the STTC the opportunity to re-arrange MOSES into a series of sub-continents focused on the larger projects hosted on the system, with individual regions within the sub-continents renamed by either estate or project name. The sub-continents themselves remained connected to one another by means of water sims and open spaces, in order to continue to present MOSES as a single continuous mass of land and water.

In the lead-up to the migration, the STTC monitored two regions on the MOSES grid in an attempt to broadly determine resource use in an attempt to help determine baseline requirements within the new hardware set-up. Commenting on this monitoring, Douglas Maxwell, Science and Technology Manager for Virtual World Strategic Applications at the STTC commented:

“We have been observing 2 sims that have roughly the same amount of prims (10,000).  Testing has revealed these heavier sims requires at least 50% of a processor and 1Gb of ram to support a meeting of 20 people.

“The current processors are 4-5 years old, so we will need to conduct virtual machine testing on the new cluster to determine how to allocate CPU resources.  However, the memory needs should be consistent.  We will be allocating a minimum of 8Gb to each virtual machine giving us a theoretical prim allocation of 40,000 prims to each sim.  These calculations are very rough as they don’t take into account texture sizes and script activity.”

The older hardware appears to have been dual-core HP servers supporting approximately 120 regions running on 60 CPU cores.These older servers are still used within the new set-up, but are now restricted to providing open water and spaces connecting sub-continents. The new servers average 8-core servers with 64Gb of memory and 80 GB hard drives.

While MOSES was back online on Friday 28th October, the migration work was continuing, with the expectation it would take a few days to complete. However, as of Friday 28th, users were being invited to log back into the system to attend the weekly MOSES Office Hours and try-out the new sims as they became available.

MOSES is still accepting new accounts from suitable parties. These are obtained via the MOSES website, and are vetted by Douglas Maxwell for suitability. While priority is obviously given to military projects, proposals don’t have to be within the military arena in order to gain access to the system.

There are a number of points to consider when applying to use the environment:

  • MOSES is a professional environment, and everyone is expected to maintain decorum. There are no casual users
  • MOSES is a research and development environment, not an operations environment, and as such, subject to software and hardware upgrades that may disrupt use
  • Full region backups from MOSES to local hard drives is fully supported. As Douglas Maxwell puts it, “What you put on MOSES, you own free and clear.”

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2 thoughts on “MOSES in major upgrade

  1. October 2012
    There are still remnants of old DoD projects left in Second Life, clustered around Coalition Island. When I was first in SL, the Army contribution was pretty obviously a recruitment advert in intent. Then. for a couple of years, it was ArmyOneSource, which is apparently a soldiers and families support operation, with paid staff in-world and regular events. And then the activity in SL stopped.
    Some areas now have restricted access, and there is no obvious sign of anyone active in all the regions. Maybe I am just in the wrong time-zone.
    Some of these regions are still worth some exploring, but the feel is of stagnation, something that lingers because making a change is just bureaucratic hassle, and the tier on 40+ regions is lost in the budget noise.
    It’s a little sad.

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    1. Yup. I’ve been wondering about doing an “historical” piece there, as I didn’t cover it last year. The USN’s presence actually gave birth to MOSES, inasmuch as Doug Maxwell worked with the USN on VW prior to working with the US Army (who sponsor MOSES).

      Interestingly, The USN raised a solicitiona to by 70 copies of the defunct SLE product in 2010, a move which was mistakenly viewed as the USN “buying the rights” to the product.

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