Europe and India are collaborating to exploit the vast potential of global eScience infrastructures through Grid computing in order to address global challenges such as climate warming and disease.
Just as the World Wide Web (www) has evolved from a way of meeting the needs of a scientific community into the world's most widely accepted source of information, e-Infrastructures and Grid Computing have already started to deeply modify research and business worldwide, with further major impact expected in the forthcoming years.
The term e-science was originally coined by Sir John Taylor, former Director General of the UK Research Councils in order to refer to the large scale science carried out through distributed global collaborations enabled by the Internet. Within this framework e-Infrastructures designate the new generation of integrated ICT-based Research Infrastructure.
The new paradigm that enabled the interaction amongst distributed resources, services, applications and data is popularly termed “Grid” computing. The term Grid was coined in the mid-1990’s to indicate the “coordinated resource sharing and problem solving in dynamic, multi-institutional virtual organisations”.
A typical comparison is made between grid computing and the Power Grid. Within the framework of the grid computing paradigm computing power should be ubiquitous, as easily and seamlessly accessible as electricity. At the beginning of the twentieth century, each industry relied on directly generated electricity power, like most industrial and research laboratories rely nowadays on directly owned computing centres.
By 1920 the availability of a power grid determined a quantum leap in industry, allowing Henry Ford to achieve accessible costs and mass production for his cars. In the near future, we can expect Grids, and other emerging distributed computing approaches, such as Cloud computing to achieve a comparable impact in research and industry.
The goal of Grid Computing is “to provide a service-oriented infrastructure that leverages standardized protocols and services to enable pervasive access to, and coordinated sharing of geographically distributed hardware, software and information resources”[ ] This original aim has been pursued over the years and the numerous achievements have led more and more research institutes, governmental organisations and enterprises to adopt Grid technologies in their activities.
In this domain Europe has a long-term, coordinated and shared vision, mission, strategy, roadmap and funding, driven by the European Commission's Framework Programmes. Europe has embraced the notion of a “Worldwide Grid for Research” as expressed in the e- Infrastructure's Reflection Group White Paper. For Europe, the “Worldwide Grid” will form the basis of the Information and Knowledge Society by providing or enabling many diverse elements: virtual collaborative environments; tools for education and research; planning and simulation tools for complex problem solving; virtual environments for medical treatment; storage and analysis of high-resolution data, pictures and video; providing access to massive scientific databases for disciplines from Bio-informatics and Bio-chemistry to Meteorology, Physics and Astronomy; and non-scientific databases for Cultural Heritage, museum collections and many more.
Similarly in India, the GARUDA, the National Grid Initiative and the National Knowledge Network Plan represent the clear indication for a government strategy addressing the main needs of education, research and development by the use of ICT distributed resources. The EU-IndiaGrid2 project bridges European and Indian e-Infrastructure to ensure sustainable scientific, educational and technological collaboration.