Friday, September 23, 2011

EGI Technical Forum 2011 - What I Bring Back Home

It has been a very intense week in both planned activities and side discussions who happened along this very rich event.

    • EGI Policy Development Workshop: this is the second workshop that we organised to engage stakeholders on policy matters in the context of EGI. We reported on the recent developments in both strategic, operational and technical policies in EGI. We also provided insights on Horizon 2020 (the future 2014-2020 EU funding program on research and innovation) and Structural Funds. They both are important tools that the EC will use to implement the Europe 2020 strategy (mainly the Digital Agenda for Europe and Innovation Union). The EGI partnership and individual NGIs should closely monitor these funding opportunities,  align their strategies and prepare clear messages on how e-infrastructure can have long-term socio-economic impact through the results that researchers can achieve using them. K. Glinos, Head of the GEANT & e-Infrastructures Unit of the EC attended the session and provided useful insights, especially on how structural funds will evolve (more open to projects aiming at service provision and  cross-country cooperation). The future workshop to be held at the next EGI Community Forum will focus more on NGIs policy development, the goal will be to gather experience from the most mature NGIs and share status and best practices with the developing ones.
    • EGI Sustainability and Business Models: the organisation of this workshop was very demanding but the participation and discussion was rewarding. The preparation started back in June with a survey submitted to all NGIs/EIROs. From the survey results, it was clear that there is a lot to develop in the area of business model design, that is why we proposed an educational section trying to set a common ground on business models discussion. We decided to adopt the Business Model Canvas as a tool that facilitates a focused discussion on the matter while enabling also explorations and reuse of successful patterns. The sustainability aspect of the EGI ecosystem was touched from different viewpoints: NGI (presentation from German NGI), User Community (WLCG), Technology Provider (EMI) and EGI as a whole. We will publish a short report on the workshop.
    • e-Fiscal Project Workshop: the e-Fiscal project, formally kicked-off last 1st August, was presented and the preliminary draft questionnaire to collect data from EGI and PRACE sites on actual costs covering 2010 and 2011 was discussed. The invited panelists and the audience agreed that the balance found in the current draft is good, enabling to collect meaningful data to evaluate the cost of e-infrastructures while not overkilling those who need to provide the answers. One of the raised questions was about reusing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) methodologies. It was clarified that the project focus is on actual costs already payed, while TCO is related to cost projections to support selection among alternative solutions.
    • Towards an effective e-Infrastructures impact assessment: the ERINA+ project presented a revamped methodology to evaluate the socio-economic impact of e-infrastructures and research projects and a web tool enabling self-evalution will be released later in January. The number of questions to e-infrastructures have been narrowed down to 20 while research related projects will be addressed to understand their perceived impact on the usage of e-infrastructures related to their ability to achieve faster, newer results in their work.
    • Tutorial: Towards better managed Grids. IT Service Management best practices based on ITIL: as part of the MoU signed with, the gSLM  project organised an excellent tutorial introducing to the community ITIL, ISO 20000 and CobiT. The room was overcrowded, a sign of how high is the interest in learning and re-using best practices to improve the service life cycle management or the IT governance. Definitely, more work needs to be done, that is why as part of I strongly supported the engagement with gSLM and looking forward for more closer cooperation.
    • Signing two new agreements: during the conference, we finalised two new collaboration agreements. The first one with the SIENA project to collaborate on standardisation roadmaps for Grids and Clouds. The second one with the Meraka Institute (South Africa) to formalise the inclusion of resource centres of South Africa within EGI. We also had informal discussion to define details of upcoming agreements (with the DANTE organisation, the e-nventory project, the EDGI desktop grid, and the Digital Cultural Heritage user community).
Besides these planned activities, I had many side discussions and short meetings (e.g., finalising the long standing mapping of the GLUE information model into the XML Schema). 

Overall the conference was very rich and fruitful and I hope that all participants are bringing back home useful results. Sometimes it was hard to choose among parallel sessions, but this is little price to pay in a dynamic and effervescent event. So, these are the main results that I bring back home.How was your experience at the conference?

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