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Opinion - EELA in Latin America

Opinion - EELA in Latin America: a conversation with Bernard Maréchal

EELA-2 aims at building a high capacity, production-quality, scalable grid facility, providing round-the-clock, worldwide access to distributed computing, storage and network resources needed by the wide spectrum of Applications from European - Latin American Scientific Collaborations. Image courtesy EELA News

iSGTW and BELIEF have teamed up to find out what the speakers at the 4th BELIEF International Symposium think about the state of e-infrastructures in Latin America.

We spoke to Bernard Maréchal, EELA-2 (E-science grid facility for Europe and Latin America) Project Coordinator, who shared his thoughts on the challenges of implementing grid technology.

What do you do?

I'm the EELA-2 Project Coordinator. While my actual role is "restricted" to the overall coordination of the project, one of the main EELA-2 objectives is to plant the seeds of the long-term sustainability of its e-infrastructure and to contribute to the development of e-science in Latin America.

What is your view on the current position of Latin America, in regards to the use of grids and e-infrastructures?

We have just started and it will be a long road. There is an overall lack of awareness in the scientific and industrial worlds and the support from the political side could be stronger. Funding agencies, in particular, could play a very important role in supporting e-Infrastructures research. The adoption of these new tools will certainly improve life conditions.

In what ways do you see the grid helping researchers in Latin America?

Grid is not a solution for everything but rather one of the (best) ways to obtain scientific results in shorter timescales. It can therefore improve scientific production in certain domains (like High Energy Physics, Bioinformatics, Earth Sciences and Climate) that today depend on computing power if they are to be competitive on a worldwide scale.

Bernard Maréchal enjoying the outdoors.

Image courtesy of BELIEF II

In your opinion, what is the most important achievement in grids and e-infrastructures in Latin America?

Thanks to EELA-2, a grid-oriented project spanning both Latin America and the EU, a continental production quality e-Infrastructure has been set up which has fostered several scientific collaborations.

What do you believe is the most important challenge Latin America faces today with respect to the application of grids and e-infrastructures?

The creation of National Grid Initiatives inside, or parallel to, existing National Research and Education Networks, and federated in a Latin American Grid Initiative, hopefully inside CLARA (Cooperación Latino Americana de Redes Avanzadas, or "Latin American Advanced Networks Cooperative").

What do you see for the future of distributed computing in Latin America?

A tremendous lot of work is needed to overcome middleware diversity - NGIs should be built in such a way that members of a scientific community are still able to collaborate, even if they work with different middlewares (eg. g-Lite vs OSG vs Globus vs . . . )

In other words, interoperation (at the operations layer) and interoperability (at the middleware layer) are mandatory requirements for the success of any e-Infrastructure initiative.

-As told to Manisha Lalloo, GridTalk, for iSGTW

Thanks to the BELIEF team for their contribution to this article.

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