Feature - EU-IndiaGrid: Building a Partnership Across Hemispheres
Over the last 10 years, India has posted an average annual growth rate of more than 7%. India's success in the IT field has been especially dazzling; it is already a major exporter of software services and software engineers.
Despite these advances, the nation still faces pressing problems and currently lacks the computing infrastructure required to fully use modern technology and its educated population.
EU-IndiaGrid, the first project of its kind, seeks to join grids in Europe and India and promote research in both regions.
"Our main goal is to establish a collaboration between India and Europe and to support the evolution of Indian grid interests," says the project's manager, Alberto Masoni.
The key elements of this support are infrastructure and interoperability: two golden words of the grid world.
EU-IndiaGrid has eleven partner institutions: six in India and five in Europe. These institutions are connected via the EU-IndiaGrid testbed, one of the first steps towards a production-level grid.
"Our testbed is small," says Masoni. Then he adds with a smile: "But it is working."
An important part of supporting interoperability in India will be creating an internationally recognized nation-wide certification authority, one of the main aims of EU-IndiaGrid. A certification authority, or CA, provides a secure key that allows researchers to access the grid.
India's current CA is only valid at a national level. For the time being, EU-IndiaGrid works with Taiwan's Academia Sinica Grid Computing (profiled in last week's iSGTW) to provide Indian researchers with temporary certificates that they can use to access international grids.
A project partner of EU-IndiaGrid, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, whose headquarters are in Pune, spearheads the Indian National Grid Initiative (GARUDA) and is taking the steps to become the Indian certification authority.
Indian researchers are principally using grids for high energy physics applications, but EU-IndiaGrid also supports applications in materials science, bio-informatics, disaster management, earth and atmospheric studies. Some of these applications are already operating on the GARUDA grid.
The EU-IndiaGrid testbed uses EGEE middleware, laying the grounds for interoperability with GARUDA and European grids.
EU-IndiaGrid project members hope their work will lessen India's brain drain, says Masoni. Thanks to grid technology, Indian researchers will be able to participate in large and dynamic collaborations while maintaining the freedom to work from their home country.
EU-IndiaGrid was one of four grid computing projects present at this month's G8-UNESCO World Forum on Education, Innovation and Research: New Partnership for Sustainable Development in Trieste, Italy. The forum highlighted grid computing as a means of linking research communities; developing partnerships between developed and developing countries; and promoting worldwide science, education and innovation.
To learn more about EU-IndiaGrid visit their Web site; EU-IndiaGrid, is funded by the European Commission, Research Infrastructure Unit and is the first European and Indian grid-focused project.
- Danielle Venton, iSGTW Editor