Friday, November 27, 2009

EGI - The End of the beginning?

5pm Tuesday 24th November represented an important checkpoint in the next phase of Distributed Computing Infrastructure (DCI) provision in Europe. It marked the close of the European Commission's FP7 call for projects in DCI that will (we hope!) fund the projects that make up the European Grid Initiative (EGI).

Recall that EGI partitions the activity currently taking place within EGEE-III into three distinct areas: the infrastructure, the middleware and the development of the user communities. Groups across Europe, from both within the current EGEE-III consortium and many new partners that will be part of this exciting change in European DCI provision, have been active over the last few months in building the consortia and writing the project proposals for submission into these recently closed calls.

One of EGEE-III's main goal's for the second year of the project is to plan and implement an orderly transition to EGI. The submission of the project proposals represents a concrete target that we can now plan towards. The plans that have already been put in place around the EGI Design Study (EGI_DS) Blueprint and Functions documents for the second year in EGEE-III, will now be adapted. The modifications are small... but in the same way that no building is ever built exactly to its plans, the EGI_DS Blueprint has had to be adapted by practical and budgetary realities imposed on us. And of course the proposed activity may still be changed through the FP7 review and negotiation process!

The challenging issues around EGEE to EGI transition planning were accidentally summed up many years ago by United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (he was talking about an entirely different context):

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.

The submission of the project proposals for EGI-InSPIRE (infrastructure), the European Middleware Initiative (for the middleware) and the ROSCOE and SAFE proposal (the user communities currently supported by EGEE-III) represent the conversion of a lot of known unknowns to known knowns.

All that remains over the next 5 months is to work on the remaining known unknowns and see what unknown unknowns appear!

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