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Showing posts from September, 2006

Mashing in the UK?

In the last two weeks, several people have suggested to me that the UK could take more advantage of data collected here. Public agencies such as the Met. Office, Ordnance Survey, Transport for London, the British Crime Survey, the Land Registry and others hold data on various aspects of our lives. Private companies such as Experian and major retailers collect much more. If these were available as web services (in the broadest sense), inventive developers could mix and match them in new ways, displaying the results in meaningful ways (such as in map form).

Such activities are already popular in the USA, where more similar data sets are available. A widely-quoted example is Chicago Crime and there are many more. The question is, how can the UK catch up?

A few example projects are already underway. The DEWS project is combining Met Office data with health information and (separately) the coastguard. The Ordnance Survey is holding a Mashups day. Paul Longley's team at UCL caug…
This year's e-Science All-Hands Meeting has had a really good buzz going on. The conference is the same size as last week's OGF/GridWorld meeting in Washington, in a friendlier venue and with lots going on. This year's talks & demos seem more about applications than technology, which suggests that e-Science is maturing and becoming viable for more widespread use.

I'm here mainly wearing my Grid Computing Now! hat. We have a booth in which we present the DTI-funded R&D projects alongside our industry case studies. We've had quite a good interest from the delegates. From my point of view it's been good to see what the R&D projects are doing now that they are up and running. We had excellent demos from BROADEN, DEWS and Healthcare@Home.

Healthcare@Home is developing a system whereby diabetes patients can monitor key indicators (such as glucose level in the blood) at home, with readings transmitted to a server via mobile phone. This enables clinici…

OGF misses a chance with Pharma & EDA

GGF18 included a series of sessions that were intended to capture requirements from the Pharmaceutical and Electronic Design Automation industries, with the intended output of guiding and prioritising the standards work in OGF. These started well. A session on EDA produced a small set of priotised requirements. Then the Pharma folks had their turn and produced a similar set, with some overlaps.

Unfortunately things went wrong after that. These requirements were added to a veritable soup of other requirements, some of which were reasonable and some of which were high-level and vague. Then people made an attempt to order all these, which ran out of steam because the list was too long. The original focus from the industry speakers was lost.

The goal of these sessions was highly desirable but this time it wasn't achieved. Afterwards I heard industry representatives bemoaning the outcome. They received the impression that the OGF is rather an academic organisation that is not …

First GCN! Webinar

I'm very pleased to say that the Grid Computing Now! KTN (see sidebar) will run our first web seminar on October 4. The title is The next-generation internet: Business opportunities and challenges for Grid markets.

This webinar will describe new mechanisms for business enabled by the next generation internet and computing infrastructures. Prof. Dennis Kehoe, Director of AiMeS (Advanced Internet Methods and Emergent Systems) will talk about current opportunities and challenges for utility computing and software services. He will be followed by Prof. John Darlington, Imperial College London, with a look at a future for Grid markets.

We expect this to be of interest to MDs of SMEs, CIOs, CTOs, business analysts and consultants. For more details, please contact

OGSA + EGA = ?

What does the merger of the Global Grid Forum and the Enterprise Grid Alliance mean for the people actually developing Grid standards? This has been addressed in a couple of sessions here at GGF18. The first indications is that their efforts mesh quite well - or at least they avoid much conflict.

The EGA have produced a reference model, a security model and use cases, concentrating on the management of data centres. Their focus on the provisioning of data servers should nicely complement the existing OGSA work, which addresses provisioning of compute servers rather than data and considers only higher-level data services. Similarly the EGA reference model describes the components of a data centre at a higher level than current CIM work, which is where OGSA is currently concentrating its efforts. And of course the Enterprise requirements have a major focus on SLAs, QoS, policy management, billing and chargeback - long recognised by OGSA but not something they've got around to addres…

GGF18: Grid in the Enterprise?

This morning's sessions at GGF18 in Washington showed the interesting contrast between the academic and commercial ideas of what "Grid computing" means. The academic view came from Ian Foster's classic paper, The Anatomy of the Grid, which was referenced by Dan Atkins of the USA National Science Foundation in his keynote speech. This view stresses the importance of a Virtual Organisation - a group of people from different organisations working together on a project or task. The term "Virtual Organisation" comes from business economics, so is not unknown to the commercial world - classic examples are the supply chain of a manufacturing process or the various organisations working together on a civil engineering project - but in the Grid world, VOs are more commonly seen in science Grids.

The commercial view was presented during the session on Enterprise Grid Requirements. Paul Strong of Ebay put it clearly: the focus is on removing silos between sub-organisat…

The OGSA Data Architecture

One of my many hats is as co-chair of the OGSA Data working group of the Open Grid Forum. We work on the data-oriented aspects of the Open Grid Services Architecture (see also here), covering the description, movement, access, replication, federation and storage of data in a Grid environment. Our aim is to provide a framework that links existing standards with those in development, and to show gaps that are not currently covered by standards work.

We had a fruitful face-to-face meeting here in Edinburgh last week, in which we concentrated on the descriptions of the interfaces in the architecture. The architecture is really a toolbox of data services that can be composed in various ways to address a range of use cases. As I expected, this focus helped us to to describe in greater detail how the various components will work together.

I believe we should have a draft of the architecture ready for public comment soon. I'm looking forward to actually completing this work. It's…