CTWatch
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

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4. An Example: The Emerging UK e-Infrastructure

With funding from the e-Science Core Program, the UK is now in the process of implementing a prototype national e-Infrastructure. Several key components have been developed and these include:

4.1 An Open Middleware Infrastructure Institute

The e-Science Core Program has recently funded the continuation of an Open Middleware Infrastructure Institute (OMII-UK). In its second phase, the Institute is now built on three existing centres and leverages their joint user groups and the different competencies of the three teams. The lead partner is the original OMII at the University of Southampton which was set up in 2004 to provide well-engineered e-Science middleware sourced from the e-Science community.2 They have now been joined by the OGSA-DAI team in Edinburgh that has developed middleware to support data access and integration now used worldwide;3 and by the myGrid project, which since 2001 has developed a set of workflow-based tools that have been widely adopted to support researchers in the bioinformatics community.4

By combining the expertise of these groups in OMII-UK, the e-Science Core Program has established a powerful source of well-engineered software, which should enable an integrated approach to the provision of higher level and more advanced tools. A dialogue is taking place with similar organizations in different countries, such as the NMI in the US and a new organization, OMII-China in Beijing.

4.2 A National Grid service

Figure 1Established in April 2004, the National Grid Service (NGS) builds on the experiences of the UK e-Science community.5 At the core of the service there are two compute and two data clusters located at the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, and Leeds, and at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. These are supported by the Grid Operations Support Centre (GOSC) who maintain the UK e-Science Certificate Authority, a help desk, and provide training for administrators and IT professionals.

The NGS service has now connected compute resources at several partner sites. Presently there are three such associate sites, namely; Cardiff, Lancaster, and Bristol Universities. In addition to this production service, other UK e-Science Centres play an important role in evaluating and testing Grid middleware as part of the software appraisal process for the NGS and OMII-UK. Since the NGS has been in production mode, the number of registered users has risen to over 300 in a broad range of application areas.

At present, the core middleware of the NGS production grid is based on the Globus GT2 Toolkit and the SDSC Storage Resource Broker (SRB). As the Web Services versions of Grid middleware mature, it is expected that the NGS will migrate to a set of middleware services compliant with the GGF OGSA architecture. It is also expected that this set will include software from the OMII-UK as well as from the NMI and the EGEE project described in this publication.

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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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