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Feature - From grids to clouds and beyond: GRNET supports Greek researchers

Project Profile - From grids to clouds and beyond: GRNET supports Greek researchers

The Acropolis from Philipapou Hill at sunset, Image courtesy Tim Rogers, stock.xchng

All Greek universities get their internet from one source: GRNET (Greek Research and Education Network), a company supported by the Greek state, which connects them both to each other and to the larger pan-European academic network, GÉANT.

GRNET's mission is to get universities on line, to provide computing power and storage, and to develop services for researchers. Not the least of which is providing technical know-how and supporting schools and universities in Greece.

"GRNET is actually a human network - this is the most important thing about it," says Kostas Koumantaros, member of GRNET in Athens. "We transfer know-how between universities throughout Greece. It is a good vehicle to both promote research in Greece and for us to learn from our international collaborations."

GRNET is a connection point between the larger European e-Infrastructure community, coordinated by the European Grid Infrastructure, and Greek researchers who benefit from this infrastructure. GRNET is the National Grid Initiative or the "hub" of Greek e-Infrastructure activities.

Growing importance

"GRNET is especially valuable now because it saves universities money and will help them save more in the future," says Panos Louridas, GRNET project manager. "Without GRNET universities would have to make individual networking contracts - an expensive proposition."

"GRNET is also implementing cloud computing, which can bring huge savings," says Louridas. "This will allow universities to avoid buying local storage and computing centers."

GRNET also serves universities and researchers by offering online storage services such as the Pithos service and Virtual Machines on demand. More services are planned; for instance, a service offering popular scientific packages pre-installed in a cloud infrastructure

"People just keep asking us to do more things!" said Koumantaros, who leads the task creating the EGI Software Repository. It will be the central point for all software distributed by EGI, containing the middleware distribution and operational tools.

GRNET was at EGI's Technical Forum in September held in Amsterdam. There Koumantaros and colleagues presented their recent work on the EGI Software Repository, which will be ready in 2011. View his presentation online.

-Danielle Venton for iSGTW

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