European Grid Initiative established

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A new organisation that will support the sustainable future development of leading-edge, collaborative scientific computing has been established following the signing of legal documents in Amsterdam. The European Grid Initiative (EGI.eu) will coordinate a European-wide grid computing infrastructure on behalf of its participants (national and community specific resource providers) that will enable scientists across the continent to share computers to carry out collaborative research projects within Europe and internationally.

EGI.eu was formally created in Dutch law on 8 February 2010 following the signing of legal documents by its executive board, made up of seven representatives elected by the EGI Council, including the UK’s EGI Council representative and director of the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) e-Science department, Dr Neil Geddes.

The European Commission has funded a series of projects that have integrated grid computing facilities across the continent. This started with the European Data Grid, which was then followed by three projects, Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE), all coordinated by CERN. The most recent, EGEE-III, is due to end in April 2010, and the EGI.eu has been designed and established as a permanent and sustainable approach to ensuring abundant, high-quality computing support for the European and global research community for many years to come.

Geddes said: 'Grid computing is already having an incredible impact on how scientists are carrying out research into highly complex problems. Scientists from five countries used grid-powered software to screen over 80,000 drug-like molecules an hour for their ability to disable a crucial malaria protein. In just ten weeks, the Wisdom project completed the equivalent of 420 years of work, producing a shortlist of just 30 promising drug leads. Using grid computing to find potential solutions before going into the laboratory means that precious time and physical resources can be saved, potentially leading to cures and treatments to diseases much more quickly.'

Dr Bob Jones, EGEE director, said: 'It is great to see this sustainable, distributed computing infrastructure for researchers in Europe being established and it is a fitting culmination of the work of EGEE and the many collaborating projects.'

EGI.eu will not own or operate any computers, but will co-ordinate clusters of computers in more than 50 countries through national centres called National Grid Initiatives (NGI). The UK’s NGI is coordinated by STFC’s e-Science department at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and is made up of the National Grid Service and GridPP projects funded by STFC, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

Together, the NGIs and EGI.eu will direct the progress, operations, maintenance and sustainability of the EGI infrastructure. EGI.eu will be responsible for provision of essential services, such as security, coordination of user support, software commissioning, and monitoring and accounting for resource use.