Go, Go Gadget AppDB

This week the team behind the EGI Applications Database launched their latest tool, a widget to allow anyone to integrate the database with their website.

AppDB has gone from strength to strength since its launch last summer including a major upgrade late last year. The main aim for the database is for users (and developers) to be able to find out what is already out on the grid that can be used or built upon for their work. For this the AppDB needs to be easy to use, but more importantly easy to find.

During the initial development of the AppDB the developers at the Institute of Accelerating Systems and Applications in Greece focussed on producing a resource that could be easily accessed and leveraged by anyone who was interested. Using standard, and easy to understand, protocols the team made it simple to query, and pull results from, the database. The first place to test the underlying technology was the AppDB's very own website.

Now that the tool was easy to use, how could they make it easy to find? Just put it everywhere. On NGI websites, national lab websites even individual scientists websites. There was a snag, the system was simple to understand and use but the effort required integrating it fully into an existing site would be asking a lot. So the team have developed the AppDB Gadget, a widget which can be placed on any webpage and display a simple interface to the AppDB. In less than 500 characters a website can have a fully functioning, fully customised interface to the AppDB available to its users.

One of the important features of the gadget is the ability to customise it for a particular discipline (even sub discipline), virtual organisation (VO), middleware or even where it was developed. This means that depending on the audience the website is for the gadget can be set up to be relevant to that VO, scientific community or underlying technology.

Marios Chatziangelou is in charge of the team building the AppDB and the gadget, he is really happy with their progress "I think we have done really well since taking over last July. Now with the new gadget the entire community can interact with the AppDB from any website that wants to host it. Also more users mean more testing and comments which will help us build on and improve the AppDB".

ICTP’s e-infrastructures and climate change research conference

The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) invites policy makers, climate change scientists and e-Infrastructure experts to attend its conference on the ‘Role of e-infrastructures for Climate Change Research’. The event will be held in Trieste, Italy at ICTP’s headquarters (16-20 May, 2011).

The programme includes contributions from scientists, e-Infrastructures projects and high-level stakeholders engaged in national and international strategies to tackle the climate change problem.

“The conference is a great opportunity to meet and network, in a unique environment, with policy makers, scientists and e-Infrastructure experts,” says Alberto Masoni, co-organiser of the event and director of research of the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Italy (INFN).

Confirmed keynote speakers include Kostas Glinos, head of the European Commission’s GÉANT and e-Infrastructures Unit, George H. Philander, director of African Centre for Climate and Earth System Science at Princeton University, and Bryan Lawrence, director of Environmental Data Curation at the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council.

The organisers aim to give all participants an opportunity to present their results and achievements to the community and they will be accepting one-page abstract submissions until 25 March 2011. Registration for the event is free and it’s open until 29 April.

The conference programme is subdivided in four sessions. Two will cover themes such as climate change modelling and adaptation/mitigation policies. There will also be a session addressing the role of e-Infrastructures in climate change studies and another on long-term strategies and policies in the use of e-Infrastructures in this field.

Masoni hopes that “informative presentations from a variety of experts, coupled with interactive roundtable discussions and a series of tutorials will offer participants a wide range of take-aways from the event.”

The ICTP conference on the ‘Role of e-infrastructures for Climate Change Research’ is organised by ICTP in partnership CHAIN, EU-IndiaGrid2 and EUMEDGRID-Support Seventh Framework Program projects.

NorduGrid announces conference on ARC middleware

The NorduGrid invites all users, operators, decision makers and developers to register for their annual conference on ARC middleware development. The event will be held at the Sundvolden Hoten in Norway, between 9-12 May. Online registration for NorduGrid2011 is open until 31 March.

NorduGrid is a collaboration set to develop, maintain and support Advance Resource Connector, a free grid middleware more commonly known as ARC.

“This event is the best possibility to learn about ARC, meet the community, including all the key developers,” says Balázs Kónya, NorduGrid’s technical coordinator. “If your NGI is already running ARC, or is considering some of the ARC services, then this is the best event to attend.”

“The main goal of the conference is to promote collaboration between ARC developers, users, system administrators and developers of other middleware stacks,” adds Farid Ould-Saada, the collaboration’s chairman.
This year´s event is special as it coincides with the tenth anniversary of the NorduGrid collaboration.

The scientific programme will focus on how the challenges of middleware development evolved over the past decade, as well as the relationship between NorduGrid’s ARC and the European Grid Infrastructure’s (EGI) middleware, operations and user communities and ARC in the clouds.

Ould-Saada highlights a two-day technical workshop about ARC developments and an ARC user school.

The event was not planned as a regional Nordic meeting and everyone with an interest in ARC is very welcome to come along.

“Nordugrid Conferences always have a very open and special atmosphere where real discussion is possible among all the players: students, researchers, middleware developers, infrastructure operators and politicians,” says Kónya. “It is our community event.”

New e-ScienceBriefing on Cloud computing

Cloud computing is at the centre of the latest e-ScienceBriefing, published today by the e-ScienceTalk project.

The new installment, entitled 'Cloud Computing: What's on the horizon?', looks at the many faces and challenges of cloud computing.

The report, part of a series aimed at decisions and policy-makers, discusses the European Union's vision for cloud computing and quotes Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the Digital Agenda, saying that Europe needs to be more than "cloud friendly" - it should be "cloud active".

The eScienceBriefing also discusses the different aspect of cloud computing and the differences between the Infrastructure, Platform and Software as Services (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) business models, as well as the use of clouds for science and the importance of standards.


3rd Workshop on Science Gateways for Life Sciences: call for abstracts

The 3rd International Workshop on Science Gateways for Life Sciences (IWSG) invites the submission of papers until 1 April. The workshop (8-10 June; London, United Kingdom) will bring together scientists from the fields of life sciences, bioinformatics and computer science.

“The aim is to exchange experience, formulate ideas and introduce up-to-date technological advances in molecular and systems biology in the context of Science Gateways,” says workshop chair Tamas Kiss, from the University of Westminster. The programme committee welcomes abstracts on various aspects of molecular and systems biology and Science Gateways and Portals, including management of biological high-throughput data, molecular simulations for drug discovery, usability studies of life sciences portals/gateways or integration of life sciences with e-infrastructures, with an emphasis on demonstrations and success stories. Scientists with little or no training in computer science will not be at a loss. “Science gateways hide the complexity of the [underlying computer] infrastructure from the scientist,” says Kiss, adding that life science researchers are especially welcome: “the solutions presented on the workshop are targeted towards the scientific community and not towards computer experts. The workshop, hosted by the University of Westminster, will be a multidisciplinary event that provides a unique opportunity for life scientists to meet computer scientists, application and gateway developers who specifically develop solutions for their community. “Life scientists will learn about the latest products and developments in the area of life science-specific gateways,” says Kiss. “Gateway and application developers will have the opportunity to meet the end-users and collect requirements or establish collaborations.”

  • Deadline for abstract submission: 8 April

  • More information available at the workshop's webpage

First keynote speakers for the User Forum, announced

The organisers of the EGI 2011 User Forum (11-14 April) have announced the first two keynote speakers invited for the event in Vilnius, Lithuania.

They are:

  • Steve Rawlings, an astrophysicist based at the University of Oxford and involved in the development of the Square Kilometre Array telescope, which will use a distributed network of individual radio telescopes to give the effective capacity of a very large telescope. He will talk about the data processing challenges it will provide for the e-Infrastructure community.

  • Ruth Pordes, executive director of the Open Science Grid will discuss some of the initiatives taking place with the USA’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2) program and how ‘Scientific Software Innovation Institutes’ can help the provision of cyber-infrastructures such as Open Science Grid and potentially EGI.

The deadline for early-bird registration has also been extended and discounted fees will be available until 4 March, this Friday.

The keynotes will be only a part of a packed programme of oral presentations. The talks are organised into six tracks:

  • The EMI track brings an overview of the new EMI-1 software release, as well as an outline of the plans for common execution service, data and storage solutions, quality assurance procedures and adoption of standards.

  • The User Support Services sessions will showcase the services provided by EGI.eu and its partners, as well as the domain-specific services offered by various communities.

  • The User Environments track describes a myriad of scientific gateways and portal technologies currently deployed, in addition to applications, tools and programming libraries that can simplify access to distributed resources.

  • The Virtualisation and Cloud Computing sessions will give an overview of the technologies and user experiences coming from European and national activities in this area.

  • The Technologies for Distributed Computing talks will highlight recent progress in interoperability and challenges in providing federated access to e-Infrastructures.

  • The Data Management track reviews the solutions coming from the WLCG community.

ELIXIR is one step closer to a life science infrastructure

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), a partner of the EGI-InSPIRE project, has announced that funding for the construction of the ELIXIR infrastructure has been earmarked by the UK’s Large Facilities Capital Fund.

ELIXIR – the European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information – is one of the 44 ESFRI projects. Its goal is to support research in the life sciences and to facilitate knowledge transfer to researchers in the medical and environmental sciences.

Professor Janet Thornton, Director of EMBL-EBI and coordinator of ELIXIR, said: “By providing public access to the wealth of knowledge generated by the global research community, we will empower researchers in academia and industry to solve some of society’s most pressing problems.”

“ELIXIR is an ESFRI infrastructure of global significance with probably the largest number of users,” says Andrew Lyall, ELIXIR’s project manager.

The project was launched in 2007 with funds from the European Commission’s FP7 capacities programme and brings together 32 European life science organisations from 14 countries. Now in the fourth year of its preparatory phase, the project is entering a crucial phase: “we are hoping to start the construction later this year,” adds Lyall.

This large-scale initiative will provide the facilities necessary for Europe’s life science researchers to share, analyse and protect Europe’s rapidly growing store of information about living systems.

ELIXIR’s central hub will be hosted at EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, near Cambridge in the UK.

Last week to register for the User Forum with early bird fees

Early bird registration for the EGI User Forum at discounted fees ends in 28 February.

The User Forum will be held in Vilnius (11-14 April), in conjunction with the European Middleware Initiative (EMI) Technical Conference. A draft programme for the event is now available.

The programme features four days packed with presentations, workshops, demonstrations and tutorials, starting at 9:00 am on Monday 11 April. The event will cover how users are making the most out of the infrastructure and how the infrastructure is providing support to the different communities.

EMI will introduce its new middleware release – dubbed EMI-1 – during a dedicated track, followed by tutorials and a ‘meet the experts’ session.

In addition to the scientific and technical sessions, the User Forum will feature an exhibition floor with booths, poster presentations and demonstrations of the latest grid applications to science. Examples include:

  • The DECIDE project will showcase diagnostic tools available to support medical doctors to spot ailments and diseases

  • The WeNMR infrastructure will present its web portals to potential users

  • g-INFO portal for monitoring Influenza A on the grid

Discounted rates end on 28 February, although normal registration for the event will be possible until 1 April.

More information:

Winter edition of Inspired newsletter, published

The Winter edition of EGI's newsletter Inpired was published today. The newsletter is available online and as a pdf file.

This issue brings you the profiles of

But that is not all...

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Sara Coelho