iSGTW Feature - The UK National Grid Service: celebrating 100 operation meetings

Feature - The UK National Grid Service: celebrating 100 operation meetings

Whether it's bloodflow through the brain, celestial objects, molecular permeability or ionic channels...NGS is offering researchers across the UK with the resources to power their research.
Images courtesy of NGS

Founded in 2004, the UK National Grid Service provides UK researchers with coherent electronic access to computational and data-based resources for their research, regardless of location.

Less than four years later, NGS users represent a massive variety of research fields, spanning high energy physics to social sciences, with applications installed at all four core NGS sites: the Universities of Manchester, Oxford and Leeds and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. In all, there are 16 sites currently involved.

"NGS is a highly collaborative effort," says Andrew Richards, NGS executive director. "Our 100th NGS operations meeting was held in Birmingham in January, and was an ideal opportunity for representatives from each site to get together to exchange ideas and experiences."

Richards says this diversity helps to fuel innovation within the NGS, and he encourages new communities to join the growing network.

"We are keen to attract new users from all subject areas," says Richards. "We provide a robust support network to UK grid users, including a dedicated helpdesk. We have experienced grid users there to help."

Tailored training

That help extends to the NGS training service, provided in conjunction with the Training, Outreach and Education team at the National e-Science Centre. The service can provide a boost to new users and old, with courses covering everything from introductory to advanced information. "We can also tailor courses to particular research groups or areas," says Mike Mineter, leader of the NGS training team. "Just contact the NGS helpdesk with your requirements and we'll do our best to create a course exactly suited to your needs".

NGS staff celebrate the hundreth NGS Operations Meeting, working hard on their wine glasses and an after-dinner quiz.
Image courtesy of Gillian Sinclair, NGS

New growth

2007 was a boom year for the NGS, and the collaboration continues to grow in 2008. Already the universities of Keele, Glasgow and Edinburgh have joined the NGS, and Oxford, a member of the NGS since 2005, is now contributed extra resources.

"This growth is allowing the NGS to reach more potential users than ever before," says Richards. Equally as important, we can also offer our existing users an increasingly diverse range of resources."

The NGS is funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

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- Gillian Sinclair, NGS