SCIENCE & ENGINEERING NEWS
Boston, MASS. — More than 190 participants will gather at the 5th Grid Forum workshop (GF5) Oct. 15-18. GF5 brings together representatives from more than 100 organizations and 11 countries for technical discussions aimed at forging agreements and distilling common practices in a growing community of people and projects building “grids.”
Nine working groups, covering topics that range from directory services to security to grid programming and runtime environments, are developing 30 “grid working drafts,”. a document series that will promote interoperability and collaboration and reduce duplication of effort.
Sun Microsystems and Sun Labs will host GF5 at the Bell Atlantic Learning Center in Marlborough, MA. GF5 is also sponsored by Boeing Phantom Works, NASA, Argonne National Laboratory, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), at the University of California-San Diego, and the University of Virginia.
Grid Forum ( http://www.gridforum.org ) is a community-initiated forum of individual researchers and practitioners working on distributed computing, or grid technologies. Grid Forum focuses on promoting and developing grid technologies and applications by developing and documenting “best practices,” implementation guidelines, and standards, with an emphasis on rough consensus and running code.
“During the past year Grid Forum has moved from startup phase, with working groups trying to determine focus areas, to become a fast-moving set of teams each trying to build a set of agreements and specifications that will form a technical foundation for the increasing number of projects that are attempting to build grid systems,” says Charlie Catlett, Senior Fellow at Argonne National Laboratory and Grid Forum Chair. “What is particularly exciting with Grid Forum 5 is that we are seeing the work of these teams come together in a set of concrete documents that will contribute toward a variety of grid efforts ranging from peer-to-peer systems to large science and engineering projects.”
Grid Forum’s first four workshops involved between 100 and 150 participants, mostly from the United States. At GF5, there are over 40 non-U.S. participants, most of them from European grid projects including eGrid, ( http://www.egrid.org ) a European forum that works closely with Grid Forum.
Grid technologies are critical to major federal technology initiatives, including NEESgrid, an NSF-funded effort to develop a Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), and GriPhyN and the European Union funded Data Grid project at CERN, both efforts to develop a network environment for large-scale analysis of physics data. At the same time, Grid technologies are being put to use in the private sector and include a rapidly expanding class of “peer-to-peer” systems. Companies such as Boeing, one of several GF5 sponsors, have employed a variety of distributed computing techniques for more than a decade, and seek ways to make their integration and interoperation more efficient.
“Grid Forum provides an environment where the developers of directory systems, authentication software, and programming environments can hammer out agreements on how such systems should interoperate,” says Ken Neves, senior technical fellow and director of computer science at Boeing Phantom Works’ Mathematics and Computing Technologies Division. “It’s critical that these discussions among computer scientists, software developers, and system architects are happening across the traditional protocol layers and functional boundaries.”
Grid Forum meets three times a year, with the next workshop planned for early 2001 in Amsterdam, followed by a July 2001 workshop in Washington, DC. Grid Forum 4 was sponsored and hosted by Microsoft and Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA. Previous Grid Forum workshops were hosted by the San Diego Supercomputing Center, Northwestern University, and NASA Ames Research Center.