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Full speed ahead for the Grid

With the final plenary session, Europe’s biggest Grid event ever comes to an end today, with more than 900 participants gathering for the 20th Open Grid Forum (OGF20) and the 2nd Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE) User Forum. End-users, Grid experts and business representatives shared their experiences and thought about the future of the Grid, impressively demonstrating how far Grid technology has come.

Marcin Plóciennik from the Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center won the prize for best demonstration of a Grid application shown at the event sponsored by Apple Inc. On behalf of the Interactive European Grid project, he showed an application for the visualization of plasma particles in fusion devices on the Grid. This demonstrated how parallel applications, which may run remotely across several sites, can be supported on the Grid, including user-friendly interactive access and powerful visualization features.

“We need the Grid to make this activity possible,” Plóciennik said. “The combination of all available resources, from computing clusters to supercomputers provided by the Grid enables us to contribute in a significant way to the design of new fusion facilities and to study plasma physics by providing solid predictions that can then be verified with the experts of the field.”

Another area benefiting from using the Grid is molecular docking, which was presented in three different demonstrations, and a large user group comes from High-Energy physics; in particular the experiments of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The number of jobs per month reported in the central accounting system totalled more than 1.5 million for the LHC experiments and more than two million for all users. Since some sites do not account all jobs this is an under-estimate. In addition to the many different use cases of the Grid, a range of groups also showed tools to make the use of Grid simpler, ranging from portals to application programming interfaces that can be used on several Grids.

“We are very proud that this event has brought together such a large and diverse part of the Grid community,” said Massimo Lamanna from CERN, chair of the User Forum programme. “This really shows what a vibrant community we have and how important it is to organise events where scientists and grid experts can meet and discuss face-to-face.”

Attendees of the joint event came from a wide range of technological and scientific areas already making use of the Grid, showcasing that the Grid has become a useful tool for many sciences. Organised in conjunction with OGF20, the User Forum not only helped to improve communication between users and between users and Grid experts, but also ensured that the needs of real Grid users feed into the development of key standards.

“Grids are on their way to become a world-wide, ubiquitous, seamlessly accessible infrastructure for collaborative research,” said Erwin Laure, Technical Director of EGEE. “They will link existing infrastructures, from clusters to supercomputers and data storage devices, offering new ways of gaining access to these resources and new possibilities for their efficient usage. To achieve this vision, local and regional Grids need to federate to international Grids – interoperability and standards are key.”

In addition to users and experts from OGF and EGEE, the joint events also provided a unique platform for a number of collaborating projects, which are providing other Grid infrastructures, delivering generic tools or services, or focussing on serving specific application domains, to discuss interoperability and standards.

EGEE will hold its next conference, EGEE’07, in Budapest, Hungary, 1 5 October 2007 ( Under the theme “building bridges” this conference will provide a platform to bring together users from different communities, Grid experts, projects, countries, and business to drive forward world-class Grid technologies.

Hannelore Hammerle | alfa
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