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< Contents ERCIM News No. 59, October 2004

GridCoord - Co-ordinating Europe-wide Initiatives in Grid Research

by Marco Vanneschi

GridCoord is a Special Support Action (SSA) of the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Community. The goal is the co-ordination of European initiatives and research activities in Grid Computing in order to strengthen co-operation among the funding agencies planning future activities, to enhance collaboration between the research and user communities, and to develop visionary national and EU programmes and roadmaps enabling Europe to play a leadership role in Grid technologies and applications.

There are several Grid research initiatives, ongoing or planned, at the national and European Community level, aiming at the development of a rich set of advanced technologies, methodologies and applications. If the challenges that lie ahead are to be solved, enhanced coordination among the authorities funding these initiatives is needed in order to achieve critical mass, avoid duplication and reduce fragmentation of efforts.

From 2002 to 2006, EU funding for Grid research and deployment more than doubled, reaching 275 M€ in FP6. For the same period, an estimate of the funding for Grid research and deployment by a number of Member and Accession States (UK, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden) is about 300-500 M€.

The totality of these initiatives could provide the EU with the potential to play a leading world role in Grid technologies and applications. National and EU collaborations have been established with other international players (in the US and Asian-Pacific area) and with international standards organisations. However, if Europe wishes to compete with leading global players, it would be sensible to attempt to better coordinate its various, fragmented efforts in order to achieve critical mass and the potential for a more visible impact at an international level. This requires:

  • co-ordination among the funding authorities in order to maximise the effective use of the considerable existing and potential resources
  • collaboration among individual researchers and the creation of European excellence and competence centres
  • a visionary research agenda.

The first objective of GridCoord is thus to strengthen co-operation among the funding authorities in order to better co-ordinate the planning of future activities in the field of Grid research, an ERA Strategic objective. A second objective is to enhance already existing collaborations between researchers and users. Finally, it is our intention to contribute towards the development of visionary national and EU programmes and roadmaps, enabling Europe to play a leadership role in Grid technologies and applications.

The project brings together national research programme leaders and representatives from national funding authorities with the aim of ensuring national commitment to future joint activities. The following institutions are partners of GridCoord:

  • Italy: University of Pisa, Department of Computer Science, and University of Genova, Department of Communication, Computer and System Science
  • France: Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique (INRIA), Sophia Antipolis, and University of Nice, Sophia Antipolis
  • UK: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and Queen's University Belfast, School of Computer Science
  • Germany: University of Stuttgart, High Performance Computing Center (HLRS), and Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum für Informationstechnik (ZIB), Berlin
  • The Netherlands: University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Science, Institute of Informatics
  • Hungary: Computer and Automation Research Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences MTA SZTAKI
  • Spain: Technical University of Madrid, School of Computer Science
  • Poland: Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center
  • Sweden: Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA).

Objectives and Activities
To achieve the first objective — improved coordination among funding bodies, policy makers and leaders of Grid initiatives — the project will:

  • develop a comprehensive compendium of national and EU initiatives including an analysis of strengths, weaknesses and gaps at EU level
  • identify common interests and synergies capable of leading to cooperation between different groups, collaboration among funding authorities and eventually the planning of common initiatives to overcome fragmentation, avoid duplication of efforts and build the necessary critical mass
  • provide a regular forum at which participants from national funding authorities and leaders of national Grid initiatives can meet at six-monthly intervals to establish synergy between the different projects and programmes.

To achieve the second objective - enhanced collaboration among researchers and users of Grid technology - the project will:

  • organise general and specialized workshops
  • promote and organise dissemination/education/training initiatives both for users and for research centres
  • investigate the status of standardisation activities in Grid computing and devise a strategy for European activities in standardisation.

To achieve the third objective - development of Grid R&D programmes and road maps - the project will:

  • develop a coherent and innovative Grid R&D programme vision in Europe taking into account cohesion, and considering present achievements and the multinational character of Grid R&D in Europe. This task will address the strategic research issues identified by the EU Expert Group on Next Generation Grids (June 2003) and the UK Gap Analysis report (May 2003), which have been substantially stimulated by several ongoing national and European research initiatives and/or collaborations at international level
  • develop Grid R&D road maps and implementation strategies on the basis of the Grid R&D programme vision.

The multinational character of Grid research in Europe should be maintained and developed according to the intrinsic strengths of the different national programmes. This implies the continued development of both individual national and EU programmes for future Grid research initiatives at the same time as supporting multilateral exchange of experiences and plans to create a more complementary and co-ordinated approach towards Grid Research in Europe.

GridCoord is coordinated by the Dipartimento di Informatica, University of Pisa, Italy; Coordinator: Marco Vanneschi; Project Manager: Roman Tirler. The starting date was July 2004, duration 18 months, budget 960,000 €, for a total cost of 1155 €.


Please contact:
Marco Vanneschi, Dept. of Computer Science, Pisa University, Italy
Tel: +39 050 2212738