November 2005
E-Infrastructure: Europe Meets the e-Science Challenge
Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President for Technical Computing – Microsoft Corporation
Anne Trefethen, Director – UK e-Science Core Programme, EPSRC

3. Requirements for a Sustainable e-Infrastructure

The Grid projects referred to in these articles as well as the national e-Science programmes in Europe give us a good idea of what is required to create such a persistent, global, e-Science e-Infrastructure. In the UK the key elements have been identified as:1

  1. A competitive network of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) together with their ‘CERT’ teams for security monitoring and emergency response. In the UK, the SuperJANET5 network and the CERT are run by UKERNA. Across Europe, the EU has funded the Dante organization to manage the GEANT2 network that connects the European NRENs.
  2. A secure national and internationally accepted framework for multiple levels of authentication and authorisation. This must support both access within individual institutions as well as dynamic, cross-boundary ‘Virtual Organizations’ of research groups from different institutions.
  3. A collection of software centres and repositories for open source reference implementations of open standards compliant, infrastructure middleware. This will require the participation or creation of organizations with a serious software engineering capability to research, support and maintain this middleware.
  4. A national focus on digital ‘curation’ to provide scientists with support and guidance into the long-term preservation of both research data and traditional publications. By curation we mean annotation of data with metadata to enable efficient searching and provenance tracking.
  5. Integrated access to national data sets and publications is emerging via the developing Open Access Subject and Institutional Repositories. Examples in the UK include the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS), the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), the EDINA and MIMAS JISC funded services that offer sets of national data resources for education and research, and the resources of the British Library.
  6. Remote access to large scale facilities such as Diamond and ISIS in the UK and the LHC, VLT and ITER internationally. Increasingly, scientists will have to pool their financial resources and perform experiments on facilities procured at a global level. For example, the particle physicists intend to use middleware developed in the EGEE project to create an LHC Grid for distribution and analysis from the machine in Geneva.
  7. A set of national services both for HEC and Grid computing and for data services and long-term data archiving. High end supercomputers are clearly an important resource for computational scientists but there is also a need for more modest cluster resources.
  8. National and international centres to enhance the creation of a strong culture of multi-disciplinary research and provide training in new informatics technologies. Much of the new e-Science will be international and there is a need for a strong program of activity dedicated to building and educating a new multidisciplinary community of scientists.
  9. Strong involvement in international standards activities both for infrastructure and for each of the global research communities. The GGF is focussing on developing a set of standards for infrastructure services while community organizations such as the International Virtual Observatory Alliance are delivering interoperability standards for their astronomy community.
  10. Development of tools and services to support multidisciplinary and collaborative environments. These include portals providing access to quality data and services, national service and ontology registries and tools to support workflow and track provenance.

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Reference this article
Hey, T., Trefethen, A. "The e-Science Challenge: Creating a Reusable e-Infrastructure for Collaborative Multidisciplinary Science ," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 1, Number 4, November 2005. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2005/11/the-e-science-challenge-creating-a-reusable-e-infrastructure-for-collaborative-multidisciplinary-science/

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