Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Globus solution for Europe

In 1996 Ian Foster, Carl Kesselman and Steve Tuecke developed a piece of software known as the Globus Toolkit.

Today Globus is used by science and engineering projects across the US and Europe, as well as by IT companies building commercial grid products. But while in the US Globus underpins most e-infrastructures, in Europe the picture is much more diverse. Here Globus is one middleware among many and the Globus community is quite dispersed and isolated. ‘We need to organize these efforts to speak with one voice,’ says Helmut Heller of the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Munich.

Steve and Helmut in Lyon
This is where the Initiative for Globus in Europe (IGE) steps in. IGE has been set up to act as a central point of contact in Europe for Globus as well as a software developer and a point of liaison with the US Globus team. ‘Coordination is what IGE is all about, to avoid duplication of work, and we can coordinate our efforts with the US,’ says Heller, who also acts as project director of IGE.

This Monday at the EGI Technical Forum marked a milestone in the life of IGE – the very first GlobusEUROPE event. GlobusEUROPE is set to become an annual conference, which will complement the GlobusWORLD event in the US. ‘GlobusEUROPE is an opportunity to bring people together to exchange ideas,’ says Heller. ‘It was a chance to hear about new advancements and to let users know about the European Globus Community Forum (EGCF).’

EGCF was launched earlier this year, and is a steadily growing community – ‘It’s a forum to bring together the community to exchange ideas,’ says Steve Tuecke, Globus co-founder and guest speaker at the GlobusEUROPE event. As IGE is funded by the European Commission, Heller hopes the EGCF will ensure the work of IGE continues beyond the project’s lifetime. ‘It’s a sustainability project - a community forum that will run on its own in the end,’ he says.

But building a community isn’t the only problem IGE faces. Unlike the US, Europe spans many countries and languages; data privacy is also more of an issue. And of course in Europe, Globus also has to work with other middleware providers such as EMI to ensure they’re interoperable across infrastructures such as EGI.

But Tuecke, deputy director of the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Lab, one of the original developers of Globus welcomes this challenge. ‘At the end of the day users have adopted the tools they’ve adopted. EGI brings these together – it’s a case of embracing and bringing some order to the more diverse European environment.’

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