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

NextGRID challenges

Information and communication technologies are recognised as having a key role in Europe’s transformation into a dynamic, competitive knowledge-based economy. Sustained success is increasingly reliant on flexibility in business processes, which allows businesses to adapt to a changing global environment. IT applications and services are an essential enabler for this flexibility. Largely to meet this need there is an ongoing clear shift in the market towards a service-oriented approach to IT systems. This is allowing consumers to obtain a wide range of services as required from a range of providers, delivered via a ubiquitous telecommunications infrastructure. The emergence of this infrastructure has allowed users to enjoy permanent global connectivity from a range of wired and wireless devices without needing to be concerned with the technologies and networks involved.

The Grid has the potential to make a significant advance beyond the World Wide Web, by turning it from a passive information medium into an active tool for creating and exploring new knowledge and thereby fuelling business and industry. Today, as discussed above, this potential is unrealised and, without far more cost-effective and universally applicable technology, will remain so. A crucial missing element is the ability to compose services from independent sources in a standardised and cost-effective way. To go beyond current business use of the Grid, applications should be capable of executing on an inter-enterprise Grid infrastructure.

Current Grid systems do not address this service composition challenge–they impose business models on users and application developers, usually based on the “traditional” virtual organisation model for collaboration between mutually trusting parties. Until the Grid can support a wide range of dynamically evolving business models, while maintaining stability as seen by each stakeholder, it is hard to see how the Grid can support third-party application development, which is one of the key drivers behind the success of non-Grid computing platforms.

The separate interests of independent stakeholders cannot be resolved a priori as is the case for non-Grid applications designed to execute in a single domain. This implies that a Grid infrastructure must be capable of combining the different business models used by different stakeholders at run time, so the Grid presents a stable interface to each stakeholder. This is of course analogous to the World Wide Web today where a multitude of Web servers and Web browsers (mostly) happily coexist with each other. Furthermore, commercial business models are essential for the Grid’s long-term viability.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

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/

Any opinions expressed on this site belong to their respective authors and are not necessarily shared by the sponsoring institutions or the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Any trademarks or trade names, registered or otherwise, that appear on this site are the property of their respective owners and, unless noted, do not represent endorsement by the editors, publishers, sponsoring institutions, the National Science Foundation, or any other member of the CTWatch team.

No guarantee is granted by CTWatch that information appearing in articles published by the Quarterly or appearing in the Blog is complete or accurate. Information on this site is not intended for commercial purposes.