Tribute to Professor Gaspar Barreira

This post is published on behalf of Jorge Gomes, leader of LIP’s Distributed Computing and Digital Infrastructures group.


Gaspar Barreira, one of the founders of the Portuguese Laboratory of Instrumentation and Experimental Particle Physics (LIP), passed away on 1 June 2019.

He was a strong advocate of distributed computing and international scientific collaboration. During the European Grid Initiative Design Study (2007-2009) he was chair of the EGI_DS Policy Board the body that joined the representatives of the national grid initiatives prior to the creation of the EGI Council. He was e-IRG delegate, coordinator of the Portuguese National Grid Initiative and promoter of IBERGRID the Iberian Grid Infrastructure that joins Portugal and Spain.

Gaspar Barreira was born in Braga in 1940 and studied physics and mathematics in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. He participated in the accession of Portugal to CERN, and in 1986 together with Mariano Gago he created LIP to which he devoted much of his immense energy. He made decisive contributes to establish LIP as a reference research laboratory not only in physics but also in instrumentation, computing and technology. He was Portuguese representative at the CERN council and in several other international research organizations.

Both before and after the revolution of April 25th 1974, he worked as few in the construction of a Portugal where knowledge, freedom and rationality were decisive. In 2006 he received the order of Infante D. Henrique for his contribute to the internationalization of Portuguese research. He departed, but leaves us an immense legacy of vision, endurance and resilience.  


The CernVM Users Workshop

The next CernVM Users Workshop will take place at CERN from 3 to 5 June 2019.

The workshop aims at bringing together users and developers to discuss the current status of the CernVM ecosystem and the future directions.

This time, a particular focus would be put on serverless cloud computing, and defining the path for more versatile CernVM-FS publishing workflows.  Previous discussions on integration with container ecosystems (containerd, singularity, docker, kubernetes) will be continued, together with a look at new tooling targeted at HPC deployment.

As in the previous editions, external speakers will attend to speak on selected technology topics.

More information about the CernVM Users Workshop 2019, including registration, abstract submission and programme is avalaible online.

A few take-away messages from RDA’s 13th Plenary Meeting

A few take-away messages from RDA’s 13th Plenary Meeting in Philadelphia, US, written by our colleague Matthew Viljoen


Opening Plenary

Julia Stoyanovich welcomed everyone as the main speaker and introduced the common theme of the conference – Responsible Data – focusing on the reality of statistical bias in data-processing algorithms & its societal impact.

The speaker’s proposal to tackle this issue was by enforcing the following aspects:

  • Algorithmic transparency (not just releasing source code, which can be unnecessary and often insufficient)
  • Algorithmic transparency requires data transparency,
  • Data transparency is not synonymous with making all data public but should release it whenever possible, inc. releasing data selection, collection, pre-processing methodologies, provenance, quality info. known sources of bias, privacy preservation statistical summaries of the data.
  • Data transparency – helps prevent discrimination and enables establishment of trust.
  • Technology alone is not enough. We also need regulation and civic engagement, something we should drive through engagement with the public, both technical and non-technical.

Working Group FAIR Data Maturity Model

  • The meeting gathered around 60 attendees from all over the world. The discussion went around the scope and methodology to create a common set of core assessment criteria for FAIRness via a bottom up approach: definition, development, testing and delivery.
  • We continued to discuss whether this assessment should be automatic (done by machines/algorithms) or manual, using examples of the volume of data & practicality considerations. We agreed that the scope should be cross-disciplinary rather than domain specific.

Joint Meeting: From observational data to information

  • Two Information Groups were introduced and included aspects of bringing raw data to usable information for research, and VREs, Science Gateways or Virtual Labs. These were followed by a number of different talks including one that raised much interest about a method for Annotating Data (implemented using a MongoDB separate from the data) and tools for measuring quality of preserved data.
  • I gave a presentation introducing the SKA/AENEAS project and the plans for a Science Gateway and agreed with the Chairs of the groups to continue engagement until the end of the project.

Meeting: Assessing FAIR Data Policy Implementation in Health Research

  • The meeting introduced the new FAIR4Health project and the landscape analysis it will conduct to assess FAIR implementation in health research.
  • I mentioned the importance of engaging with existing eInfrastructures to help most important outputs, workable implementations, e.g. ELIXIR and AAI aspects

Find out more about the RDA event, programme and media.

CERN School of Computing 2019: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The CERN School of Computing 2019 will take place on September 15-28 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

The two-week programme consists of more than 50 hours of lectures and hands-on exercises, covering three main themes: physics computing, software engineering, and data technologies. However, it’s not all study – the social programme is also a vital part of the CERN School. There will be plenty opportunities to explore and experience some of Romania’s great cultural, historical and natural attractions, and profit from Cluj-Napoca’s location in heart of the Transylvania region.
Please see more information on the event.

Webinar: The EGI Notebooks service

The webinar “EGI Notebooks for interactive data analysis using EGI storage and compute services” will take place on Tuesday, 19 March from 15:00 to 16:00 (Europe/Amsterdam).

Notebooks is a browser-based tool for interactive analysis of data using EGI storage and compute services. The EGI Notebooks environment provides users with notebooks where they can combine text,  mathematics, computations and rich media output. EGI Notebooks is a multi-user service and can scale to multiple servers based on the EGI Cloud Compute service.

This webinar will introduce the key features of the EGI Notebooks service, particularly:

  • Easy access based on user authentication through EGI Check-In using institutional (eduGAIN) or social media accounts (e.g.: Google, Facebook, LinkedIn).
  • Graphical environment to write and run code, analyse and visualise data.
  • Persistent storage associated to each user, available in the notebooks environment.
  • Customisable with new notebook environments, expose any existing notebooks to your users.
  • Leverage on the EGI e-Infrastructure cloud compute and storage resources to run the notebooks.
  • Sharing of notebooks through Binder for Open Science.

More information:

Presenters: Giuseppe La Rocca and Enol Fernandez.
Event website.
Connection link.

New paper highlights the EGI contribution to Structural Biology

The West-Life project just published a paper on the Journal of Structural Biology describing how they leveraged Europe’s e-Infrastructures to provide data processing and data management services for the international community of structural biologists.

The paper describes the West-Life Virtual Research Environment for structural biology, consisting of multiple components handling data processing, data management, compute resources, infrastructure for authentication and authorisation, quality assurance and user help. It also provides a summary of the portfolio of West-Life services to support experimental techniques, for example Macromolecular X-ray crystallography (MX), Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), or Electron cryo-Microscopy (cryo-EM).

These services include, for example, HADDOCK, DisVis and Powerfit and other EOSC-hub Thematic Services offered through the EOSC-hub Marketplace.

The West-Life paper also highlights the importance of the compute resources provided by the EGI Federation through an SLA where five data centers in the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal and Taiwan committed 53 million CPU hours and 54 terabytes of storage.

Thanks to this support, the West-Life services submit several million jobs a year to the EGI High-Throughput Compute grid infrastructure.

EGI also committed Federated Cloud resources supported by two sites in Czech Republic and Italy, with up to 160 virtual CPUs and up to 4 terabytes of storage. From its beginning, West-Life applications have consumed over 57 million CPU hours provided by the EGI HTC infrastructure, and executed over 4000 Virtual Machines for more than 700,000 hours on the EGI Federated Cloud.

The data centres contributing resources to West-Life services are: CESNET-MetaCloud, INFN-PADOVA, NCG-INGRID-PT, TW-NCHC, SURFsara and NIKHEF, and the additional support of the national e-infrastructures of Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, UK, Taiwan and the US Open Science Grid.


Morris et al. 2019 West-Life: a virtual research environment for structural biology. Journal of Structural Biology. doi: 10.1016/j.yjsbx.2019.100006 (Full Text, Open Access)

Final ENVRIplus event: collaboration for an impactful Earth system science

The ENVRIplus project is holding its final event in Brussels to showcase the European environmental research infrastructures’ contribution to the global Earth Observations domain, discuss the ENVRIplus results and look ahead to the future of the ENVRI community.

The meeting will take place in Brussels on 4 June and will welcome all interested stakeholders. The talks and structure will mainly target the following audiences: European and national decision makers, the European Commission, national representatives in Brussels, European Environment Agency, ESA, EUMETSAT, IOC-GOOS, as well as GEO and Copernicus.


  • Morning plenary presenting key ENVRIplus results
  • Lunch in a ‘science market’ with stands and lightening talks from research infrastructures
  • Afternoon plenary with a broader community and international stakeholders, and future look.

More details on the final ENVRIplus event.

EGI’s participation in the International Symposium on Grids and Clouds 2019

The International Symposium on Grids and Clouds (ISGC) 2019 & Soundscape Conference will be held at Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan from 31 March to 5 April 2019 and includes co-located events and workshops. The main theme of ISGC 2019 is “Efficient and safe processing of FAIR open data”.

The conference will feature an interactive tutorial on the EGI Notebooks service on April 2nd. Our colleagues Enol Fernandez and Gergely Sipos will introduce the service and its features. The tutorial is relevant for scientists, research IT support people and system administrators who operate services for open science.

During the session “Infrastructure Clouds and Virtualisation”, Enol will give another presentation on “The latest advancements in EGI operations for improved cloud federations“. The presentation will focus on the EGI Operations services and recent advancements in the area of security, showing how these advancements improved the operation of the EGI cloud federation.

The programme of the event will also include an introduction of the EOSC-hub project within the Environmental Computing Workshop, taking place on March 31st.

More details on the ISGC 2019 conference are available online.


The 9th DIRAC Users Workshop

The 9th DIRAC Users Workshop will take place in London from 14 to 17 May 2019. The workshop will be devoted to exchanging information between the DIRAC developers, service administrators and users. Reports on the DIRAC ongoing and planned developments, service management tools will be included into the agenda together with the users reporting their experience.

You are welcome to suggest your items to the workshop agenda.

More details on the event.

IBERGRID 2019: Supporting the Iberian user communities in EOSC

The 10th Iberian Grid Conference will take place in Santiago de Compostela during the week of September 23 2019. The conference will be hosted by the Centro de Supercomputación de Galicia (CESGA).

IBERGRID 2019 will focus on fostering the development, integration and adoption of services for researchers in the framework of the European Open Science Cloud.

Key points:

  • EOSC Capacity building in the Iberian area based on distributed and cloud computing resources enabling researchers and wider user communities (public sector, industry etc…) to use advanced computing services to store and process data.
  • Capability building in the Iberian area based on data storage and processing services providing cost-effective and interoperable solutions for data management and long-term curation and preservation of scientific projects of common interest in the Iberian area. 
  • Co-development and piloting of innovative services to tackle todays scientific and social challenges in the public sector, industry and society at large.
  • Services supporting scholarly communication and open access: raising awareness on existing institutional and thematic repositories and information aggregators.

More information will follow shortly on IBERGRID’s website.