Monday, April 11, 2011

Sveikiname! Congratulations to EGI following a successful year of transition and growth!

Vilnius, Lithuania provides a beautiful setting for this year’s European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) User Forum. I’m pleased to be the guest of Steven Newhouse, EGI Project Director and Catherine Gater, EGI’s Chief Administrative Officer and Dissemination Manger. Last year I attended the event in Uppsala, Sweden as U.S. Correspondent, at the invitation of Bob Jones, Director of EGEE (Enabling Grids for EsciencE). The 2010 forum marked the official transition from EGEE to EGI. I’ll never forget when Jones passed the mantle—a collar made from conference lanyards and identification badges—to Newhouse at the Uppsala Castle gala event.

The transition occurred about 18 months ahead of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s change from TeraGrid to the eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) phase of their high performance computing project scheduled to begin mid 2011. While attrition is a natural part of the technology service culture, bringing a new management team into production presents many more challenges than the deployment of new hardware! As someone currently involved in TeraGrid’s transition, I was interested to see how things were going for the EGI team one year later.

EGI celebrated its first birthday February 8, 2011, the anniversary of the day they were awarded foundation status which is required under Dutch law. The team has grown from a few Geneva, Switzerland/CERN-based EGEE originals to 21 members who now hang their hats at Amsterdam’s Science Park. Hiring and training a new management team, establishing policy, signing new partners and outfitting new offices has made for a busy year for Newhouse and crew!

They managed to do all of this while also experiencing a period of growth. They successfully met the policy and security needs of 33 participating countries and research communities. A federation of 186 virtual organizations has become an increasingly important part of their business, according to Newhouse during his plenary presentation this morning. There are 13,319 users (up 9 percent) representing a broad range of research domains—the largest being the high energy physics (HEP) realm which uses 45 percent of all EGI cycles. In addition to serving HEP and other familiar users, increased interest by the social science and humanities arenas has led EGI staff to explore ways to improve service offerings and core technologies to accommodate emerging communities. A suite of web-based and live support features effectively serves veteran and new users alike.

To top it off, they have planned what appears to be a very informative and successful user forum. I didn’t see many empty seats at this morning’s plenary, so I suspect the numbers are favorable! I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s opening remarks by Ruth Pordes, Associate Director of the U.S. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory’s Computing Division and Executive Director of the Open Science Grid. Her presentation titled “Shared Cyberinfrastructure activities in the U.S.” is likely to include information about TeraGrid and OSG’s ongoing collaboration.

Congratulations to Catherine, Steven and the rest of the EGI team on a successful first year! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your first user forum!

Elizabeth Leake, U.S. TeraGrid External Relations

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