Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 2 at EGEE’08, thinking about Grids in Asia

It’s the second day of EGEE’08 and the frenetic pace of the first day has died down a little, to be replaced by a more contemplative crowd, knuckling down to the core business of the conference. This morning’s plenary with Evangelis Floros of GRNET, the Greek IRC and Simon Lin from ASGC, Academia Sinica Grid Computing was greeted with quiet enthusiasm by the delegates. Mr Floros shared several success stories from the EGEE user communities and updated everyone with the status of the application initiatives in the project. He also looked forward to how scientific communities are preparing for the post-EGEE epoch and how new technologies could influence their daily research routine.

Dr Lin explored the particular challenges facing the Asia Pacific region, an area that covers a huge geographical footprint and encompasses a dizzying range of cultures and languages. Scientific cooperation has not been the norm in the past, so grid projects such as EGEE and EUAsiaGrid offer the perfect opportunity to encourage this way of working. Biomedical applications are particularly popular in the Asia grid community, including the WISDOM collaboration on avian flu research, winner of last year’s EGEE’07 best demo.

As the location for a Worldwide LHC Computing Grid Tier 1 site, Taiwan’s HEP community has also set records: a data transfer rate of 7.3 Gbps from CERN to Asia – the equivalent of sending two entire Encyclopaedia Britannicas every second over thousands of miles.

Dr Lin argued that if National Grid Initiatives are looking to generate a paradigm shift in the same way as the internet, then it’s important to remember what fuelled the web’s phenomenal success: a single protocol and the possibility for infinite bandwidth. The internet may be as ubiquitous as electricity or plumbing, but grid computing still has some hurdles to overcome. There are many ways to integrate the compute and data resources in the e-infrastructure, not just one. A single middleware stack would be the ideal, but is not easy to achieve and building market share is key. That said, the secret to internet-style success could still lie in collaboration, but collaboration with a common goal, not only in the Asia region but around the world.

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