ERCIM News No.42 - July 2000 [contents]

E-Grid – Toward the Creation of a European Grid Community

by Domenico Laforenza

The popularity of the Internet and the availability of powerful computers and high-speed networks as low-cost commodity components are changing the way we use computers today. It is now possible to cluster or couple a wide variety of resources including supercomputers, storage systems, data sources, and special classes of devices distributed geographically, and use them as a single unified resource, thus forming what is popularly known as a computational grid. Two important international open forums, Grid and E-Grid, have been created in order to promote and develop Grid Computing technologies and applications.

The initial aim of Grid Computing activities was to link supercomputing sites; current objectives go far beyond this. According to Larry Smarr, NCSA Director, a Grid is a seamless, integrated computational and collaborative environment. Through the computational grid, scientists will be able to access virtually unlimited computing and distributed data resources. The grid will provide a group collaboration environment. Using a Web browser, users will be able to view and select grid resources and services in a virtual infinite machine room. The implications are enormous. The vision is to offer dependable, consistent, pervasive, and inexpensive access to high-end resources.

It is clear that many applications can benefit from the grid infrastructure, including collaborative engineering, data exploration, high throughput computing, and of course distributed supercomputing. However, building a grid implies the development and deployment of a number of services, including those for resource discovery, scheduling configuration management, security, and payment mechanisms in an open environment.

International Grid Forums

There are many grid projects underway worldwide. The Grid Forum is a mainly US community-initiated forum of individual researchers and practitioners working on distributed computing, or ‘grid’ technologies. It focuses on the development and documentation of ‘best practices’, implementation guidelines, and standards with an emphasis on rough consensus and running code. Grid Forum efforts are also aimed at the development of a broadly based Integrated Grid Architecture that can serve to guide the research, development, and deployment activities of the emerging Grid communities. The definition of this architecture will advance the Grid agenda through the implementation of fundamental basic services and by sharing code among different applications with common requirements. Wide-area distributed computing, or “grid” technologies, provide the foundation for a number of large-scale efforts utilizing the global Internet to build distributed computing and communication infrastructures. As common Grid services and interoperable components emerge, the undertaking of such large-scale efforts will be greatly facilitated and the resulting systems will better support interoperation.

The European Grid Forum: E-Grid The main objective of E-Grid is to create an open forum to improve the conditions for Grid-related research in Europe. The community includes people from European research institutes, universities and companies working in the field of wide area computing and computational grids. E-Grid is a medium for information exchange as well as a place where researchers, supercomputing centers, and other European GRID-oriented research institutions or companies can find partners for future or current projects. E-Grid is similar in intentions to the successful US initiative but reflects the particular situation in Europe. It will gather information about all Grid-related projects in Europe and ensure that individual projects are aware of and can integrate with similar efforts. E-Grid intends to establish a high profile and will support the Grid Idea, stimulating projects and collaboration.. A long-term goal is to build a European Grid. The first informal E-Grid meeting took place in Portland, Oregon, USA, during the Supercomputing’99 conference. About 30+ representatives from different European and American institutions participated. During the meeting it was decided to organize the 1st E-Grid Workshop in April’2000, in conjunction with ISThmus’2000 in Poznan, Poland. During the April E-Grid Workshop, hosted by the Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center, the following working groups were created:

Testbeds and Applications
chair: Ed Seidel, Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik, Albert-Einstein-Institut, Golm, Germany (

Resource Management
chair: Jörn Gehring, Paderborn Center for Parallel Computing, Paderborn, Germany ( )

Programming Models
chair: Thierry Priol, IRISA/INRIA, Rennes, France (

Data Management
chair: Andre Merzky, Konrad Zuse Zentrum, Berlin (

Performance Analysis
chair: Péter Kacsuk, MTA SZTAKI Research Institute, Budapest, Hungary (

The 2nd E-Grid meeting will take place during the EuroPar conference in Munich from 29 August to 1 September 2000, ( The University of Lecce, Italy has been proposed as hosts of the 3rd E-Grid Workshop in winter 2000.

The Grid Forum:

Please contact:
Domenico Laforenza - CNUCE-CNR
Tel: +39 050 315 2992