Feature - EGEE '07 stresses opportunities for cooperation, commercialization and continued innovation
This week's EGEE '07 conference is being held in the wake of a record-breaking quarter for the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE consortium, which has supported 100,000 jobs a day for the last three months using a grid infrastructure spanning 41,000 CPUs.
Collaborators from 45 countries worked to achieve these results, combining the resources of 250 computing centers to create the EGEE grid. This kind of cooperation is the key to EGEE's continued success, according to many of the conference's plenary speakers.
"We cannot be good at everything," said Ilona Vass, vice-president of the Hungarian National Office for Research and Technology. "We need to choose areas to focus on, and being good at niche areas requires even more knowledge and even more cooperation."
Norbert Kroo, vice-president of the Hungarian Academy of Science, agreed. "Grid initiatives are important for any country, but especially for small and medium-sized countries. If we do it together, it goes faster and better. "
"You are doing a vitally important job," Kroo told delegates, "and you have to be successful."
Ulf Dahlsten, director of Emerging Technologies and Infrastructures at the European Commission, agreed that e-science was vital to the future.
"There is a fantastic opportunity going on. We are putting tools in place to manage the complexity of our time. We can grasp complexity that has previously been out of human reach. We can make accurate predictions where previously there has been no way and no time to do so," he said.
Dahlsten used the example of bird flu to illustrate the potential for paradigm changes in science. Of 300,000 molecules tested using the EGEE infrastructure, he said, seven have been shown in the laboratory to act as inhibitors of the bird flu virus.
"This is a six percent success rate compared to typical values of around 0.1 percent using classical drug discovery methods," he said. "We have increased productivity by a remarkable 6000 percent by using the grid infrastructure."
But Dahlsten also underscored the need for developments in pervasive computing to be carefully managed.
"There are two dimensions to what we are doing. There is a fantastic future, and there are risks. We have to think about what society's structures are going to support."
Dahlsten praised the efforts of grid creators and collaborators, but urged delegates to think beyond their technologies to the future.
"At the same that that you are enabling the future, you also have tremendous power and you must manage this power. Who will use [this technology]? How can we make it available?"
New EGEE business associates
EGEE also announced collaborations with three new Business Associates-Avanade, Excelian and Hitachi-reflecting the increasing significance of grid technology in the commercial sector.
"The EGEE Business Associate program is an important component in our strategy for the spin-off of EGEE technologies into business and industry," said project director Bob Jones.
"We are keen to work with EGEE," said Adam Vile of Excelian. "We are looking forward to helping to shape the infrastructure by bringing the problems facing businesses today to EGEE and in turn making the product and the community more relevant to current business needs."
Existing EGEE Business Associates include GridwiseTech, NICE and Platform Computing.
- Cristy Burne, iSGTW