Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Networking Distributed Computing Infrastructures

The 'network is the computer', a marketing tag line used by Sun Microsystems for many years, is a slogan that with the advent of large scale Distributed Computing Infrastructures (DCIs) is becoming increasingly true. Underpinning European DCIs lies the a federation of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) supported through a succession of EC projects. The latest GEANT 3 was being formally launched in Stockholm last week.

GEANT provides the dedicated high speed optical networks that link the European NRENs to the international networks - in North America, South America and Asia. As such it provides an enabling infrastructure for many other projects. The high speed networks enable many Virtual Research Communities (VRCs) - from the worldwide networks of Radio Astronomy, linking the results from NMR machines to support systems biology research, to supporting the Tier infrastructure behind the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG).

The support of these VRCs, and more generally, the support of the data intensive science that will become commonplace within Europe, is seen as being vital for delivering e-infrastructures. The GEANT launch meeting in Stockholm featured many presentations and panels around this topic: the importance of GEANT in supporting the emerging research infrastructure projects (ESFRI), a linked music and dance recital between Stockholm and Kuala Lumpur, the importance in using the network as a means for driving the future internet to support research in Europe.

From an EGEE (and EGI) perspective, the high performance networking links do provide the means to link individual resource centres into a European wide distributed computing infrastructure - truly defining the network as being the computer.

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