Friday, March 25, 2011

Location, location, location – grid computing in the Philippines

Pinatubo early eruption 1991 Courtesy of the US Geological Survey
At yesterday’s session on Grids and Clouds in Asia, Peter Antonio Banzon updated us on grid and cloud research in the Philippines. He works for ASTI , the R&D agency of the Philippine Government, which is working on ICT and microelectronics. ASTI manages the PREGINET NREN for the Philippines and the e-ScienceGrid (PSciGrid). The PSciGrid project received 1million dollars over 3.5 years back in 2008 and comes to a conclusion this June. Its objectives are to establish a national e-Science grid infrastructure to enable collaborative science in the areas of earth science and life science.

“Why these fields in particular?” asked Banzon. “Location, location, location.” The Philippines lies in a zone extremely prone to typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, sitting as it does on top of many micro-fractured tectonic fault lines. Tsunamis are not uncommon and 80% of the population live on vulnerable coastal plains. The region is also home to 26 active volcanoes. In 1991, Mount Pinatubo, formerly thought to be dormant, exploded in the largest volcanic eruption in living memory. Not far from the Philippines are 300 other volcanoes also considered to be dormant – until proven otherwise.

That accounts for the serious interest in earth science research, but with more than 7000 islands, the Philippines is also one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet, and is one of only 17 countries in the world designated as a megabiodiversity hotspot. Hence life sciences are also of keen interest to Philippine researchers. Work in these areas is led through two projects that aim to boost grid computing and support the bioinformatics community. There are 6 computing clusters for bioinformatics, meteorology, EGI and EUAsiaGrid. PSciGrid runs a job submission portal at and also organises local training in grid computing.

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