iSGTW Opinion - Celebrating one year of International Science Grid This Week

Opinion - Celebrating one year of International Science Grid This Week

iSGTW celebrates one year of reporting on grid computing initiatives across the globe. In the last six months, visits to the iSGTW Web site have increased almost six-fold and are continuing to rise.
Images courtesy of iSGTW

This issue, International Science Grid This Week celebrates its first anniversary.

Since our launch last year, interest in grids, cyberinfrastructure and distributed computing has skyrocketed. As one indicator, visits to the site have increased almost six-fold over the last six months.

The number of scientists using grid computing is also increasing, as is the level of resources now available to them.

In the last year, the number of jobs run on the UK's GridPP has more than doubled to approach one million jobs during October 2007. Altogether, in the last twelve months GridPP computers have run the equivalent of 26 million normalized CPU hours.

The Open Science Grid e-infrastructure is now averaging 80,000 jobs a day-the equivalent of 10,000 CPU days every day. These jobs are distributed across 60 sites and 30,000 cores, servicing the research needs of more than 1000 users.

The Enabling Grids for E-sciencE project also continues to grow, with more than 200 virtual organizations using the EGEE infrastructure and more than 5000 users. The EGEE grid encompasses over 5 petabytes of disk space, with more than 41,000 CPUs available across 240 sites and 45 countries. During July, August and September EGEE ran 100,000 jobs daily, doubling the average number of jobs since the spring quarter.

And every month, more than 3000 scientists and engineers are accessing TeraGrid's 250 teraflops of computing capacity for their work.

But what does the future hold?
We asked iSGTW's funders for their thoughts:

Hear from the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Energy

Hear from the European Commission

Hear from Open Science Grid and Enabling Grids for E-sciencE

Hear from the U.S. National Science Foundation and Department of Energy

Marvin Goldberg, Program Director, Division of Physics, National Science Foundation

Cyberinfrastructure is having a tremendous impact on society and in the ways that academic science is carried out. It has established a new kind of science, data-centric science, which not only is a field in itself, but is a major enabler of the experimental, theoretical and computational sciences.

Grid computing, when interoperable across national boundaries, is serving as a globally unifying force in science, as it enables deeper international and interdisciplinary collaborations that would otherwise not be possible. This has resulted from sustained and cooperative community involvement. iSGTW has successfully reflected this unification and involvement in its reporting.

Kevin Thompson, Program Director, Office of Cyberinfrastructure, National Science Foundation

Grid computing was once little more than a promise, and while the vision of the grid movement has yet to be fully realized, one only need look at daily productivity of operational grids, such as Teragrid, OSG, EGEE, Earth Science Grid and others to understand that the movement is now delivering on the promise.

The grid movement continues to evolve, grow and mature. The impact of these distributed computing facilities on science is an ongoing story spanning disciplines from high energy physics and astronomy to biology, climatology, earthquake studies, economics and social sciences, and that's only a partial list now.

The impact in aggregate will only increase in the months and years ahead as grids increase in size, scale, robustness and overall productivity in their service to scientists. For those working on grid projects, know that you are part of a global movement that enables scientific research, from the small project of a single investigator to a decadal multinational Virtual Organization with hundreds of collaborators across dozens of sites, to proceed in ways that otherwise would not be possible. In many ways, this movement is still in its infancy.


Craig Tull, Office of High Energy Physics, Department of Energy

As the field of scientific computing advances and data-intensive analysis in physics increases in scale and complexity, the need for computer-enabled scientific insight is becoming more heavily reliant upon interdisciplinary teams of physicists and computer scientists.

Two immutable facts about computing for big science in the 21st century are 1) that computer resources are globally distributed, and 2) that scientific collaborations are globally distributed. In high energy physics, we recognized early on the challenge of effectively bringing together thousands of scientists, petabytes of data and petaflops of computing distributed around the globe. As an early adopter of the grid computing model, the Large Hadron Collider has been a driving force in shaping the grid vision to the benefit of all disciplines.

The grid computing community is now transitioning from an era of disjoint, stand-alone, one-off grids to one where interoperability and production-level facilities are required to meet the demands of the next generation of HEP experiments at the LHC. Though a great deal of work is still required to reach their goals, the efficacy of Open Science Grid and Enabling Grids for E-sciencE in delivering world-wide computing resources to scientists in hundreds of institutions lends ever more substance and excitement to this vital work. Congratulations to iSGTW for its important role in promoting a worldwide grid community.


Hear from the European Commission

Ulf Dahlsten, Director, DG INFSO F-Emerging Technologies and Infrastructures, European Commission

European e-infrastructures are becoming the engine of modern scientific collaboration, fuelling the creativity and productivity of researchers across Europe and beyond.

I believe that e-infrastructures need to be further enhanced to support emerging Global Virtual Research Communities, encompassing network, grid and data infrastructures, complex models and simulation tools, and new forms of "participative research" for a more effective cross-disciplinary knowledge production and sharing.
Our aim is to make the e-infrastructures sustainable and put them "at the heart" of the growing Global Virtual Research Communities. This is the best way to capitalize on research investments, building European competitiveness and helping Europe to better face the socio-economic challenges of the 21st century.

Mário Campolargo, Head of Unit, DG INFSO F3-GÉANT & e-Infrastructure, European Commission

EGEE, the flagship of the European Union e-infrastructures program in the area of cluster grids, is acknowledged as a world-leading research facility. I expect that the EGEE infrastructure will continue to provide a first-class service to the scientific community at large.

In this context, a key element will be the transition towards a sustainable funding model by federating the efforts of the presently emerging national grid initiatives. I am positive that the resulting organization will provide the stable ground for an infrastructure called to become a pervasive working tool for modern science.


Hear from Open Science Grid and Enabling Grids for E-sciencE

Ruth Pordes and Bob Jones, project leaders, OSG and EGEE

OSG and EGEE are excited to contribute to iSGTW and thrilled to see the range of articles that the grid community has brought together over the past year, from such different projects and groups throughout the world. Every newsletter gives us new insights and eye-catching images. The broad reach of iSGTW articles encourages us in our vision of cooperation with individuals and groups pursuing the scientific method to solve our Earth's problems and nature's puzzles.

Our U.S.-Europe collaboration on this venture has benefited the reach and scope of the iSGTW newsletter and is a concrete example of the cooperation that is both needed and possible for our vision. We have high hopes and expectations for the future of iSGTW and grids.