Feature - Taiwan's Tier-1 Connects Asian-Pacific
Taiwan may be small, but its contribution to the global grid effort is increasingly large. This is the message of Simon Lin, Project Director of Academia Sinica Grid Computing, the dedicated grid computing center of Taiwan's most influential academic research institution.
Taiwan's ASGC already plays a pivotal role: since December 2005 it has functioned as a Tier-1 Center for the Worldwide Large Hadron Collider Computing Grid, or WLCG, making it one of only eleven such centers around the globe. Tier-1 centers like the ASGC are responsible not only for maintaining their own operations, but also those of the many Tier-2 centers that depend on their services. In the case of the ASGC, these Tier-2s are becoming increasingly far-flung.
"We coordinate around 20 sites across the Asia-Pacific, and we're keen to bring the entire Asia-Pacific into the bigger grid picture," explains Lin. "For example, EGEE-II currently includes only Taiwan and Korea. In EGEE-III we plan to include more countries such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and so on."
Most of the ASGC's computing strength goes towards high energy physics and biomedical applications, but Lin is also excited by the potential the grid has shown for digital archiving.
"We have an extremely rich history in Taiwan, which has led to a strong requirement for digital archiving," he adds. "Our National Digital Archives Program has collaborated with the ASGC to fuel an advanced system for storing and managing collections from museums, archives, and the like. This is a great example of how technology can contribute in unforeseen ways."
ASGC reflects the increasing internationality of the grid community.
"In the old days the 'E' in EGEE meant Europe," says Lin. "Now we're moving towards a more global presence. Science is operating on the very frontiers of human knowledge. A single country cannot overcome the challenges this brings; we must aggregate, we must pool the resources of every nation."
The ASGC serves as a regional operation centre, providing regional and global WLCG service monitoring, virtual organization support, middleware deployment, certificate authority and user support.
"To continue to progress in this area, smaller countries like Taiwan must be opportunistic," says Lin, discussing the success of Taiwan's strategic thinking. "We must be more willing to try new things. By seeking out these new opportunities we can continue to make big contributions."
- Cristy Burne, iSGTW Editor