November 2005
E-Infrastructure: Europe Meets the e-Science Challenge
Mark Parsons, NextGRID Project Chairman


All of these commercial Grid prototypes support the application requirements typically found in academic Grids, but they all had to be specialised in some way to meet specific business requirements in the sector or scenarios they were designed to support. There remains a lack of consensus on what constitutes a usable business Grid, and without this, the impact of Grids on business will remain very limited. To overcome these barriers, it is not enough to simply implement solutions that meet the business requirements of individual users. The World Wide Web was not delivered by studying the requirements of business – but it continues to be truly transformational in the way all of us live and work. The next generation of Grid must therefore be truly transformational. It must go well beyond the stated requirements of science and business and it must also be prepared to challenge current orthodoxies. Those of us who believe in the Grid understand that, as it delivers over the next decade, we will begin to see the true value of this computing revolution.

Getting from where we are now to where we want to be will not be easy. Neither is it easy to visualise that end point clearly. We just know it will be there. In some business sectors, enormous resistance to change has built up and the Grid is perceived to have failed to deliver or it has delivered in a very constrained way – such as cluster computing. For instance, a common refrain in the financial services sector is “we’ll never deploy wide-area Grids – they’re alright for scientists but what about our regulatory and security requirements?” The purpose of the NextGRID Project is to challenge some of these attitudes and to undertake the necessary thinking to make the Grid truly able to deliver.

NextGRID,1 funded by the European Union’s Information Society & Media directorate, is a three year, €16.5million research project with partners drawn from across European academia and business. With 13 of the 22 partners coming from the business domain, including SAP, Microsoft, Fujitsu, BT and NEC, the project has a strong focus on tackling the “Grid for business” agenda. The project is currently the only project worldwide that is specifically focused on driving the architecture of the Grid forward.

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Reference this article
Parsons, M. "The Next Generation Grid ," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 1, Number 4, November 2005. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2005/11/the-next-generation-grid/

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