EGI.eu was created on 8 February 2010 to coordinate and maintain a sustainable pan-European infrastructure to support European research communities and their international collaborators. Its work builds on previous EU-funded projects which nurtured this goal, from the initial concept of a scalable, federated, distributed computing system.
The distributed computing grid was originally conceived in 1999 to analyse the experimental data produced by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN – the European particle physics laboratory located on the Swiss/French border.
The European DataGrid Project, which started in January 2001, led the research and development of Grid technologies. It established the organisational structure, gathered and analysed requirements, developed middleware (the software that links hardware resources), and provided training to its users. The project proved the Grid’s successful application in various research fields – high energy physics, Earth observation and bioinformatics. Upon completion in March 2004, a new project called EGEE (Enabling Grid for E-sciencE) took over the Grid’s further development in what would result in three successive two-year phases.
EGEE provided researchers with access to computing resources on demand, from anywhere in the world and at any time of the day. Ease of access and the ability to analyse a larger amount of data within a shorter timescale than before attracted participation from a wider range of scientific disciplines. By April 2010 when the last EGEE project phase was completed, there were about 13 million jobs per month running on the Grid, hosted by a network of 300 computer centres worldwide.
A dedicated design study (EGI-DS, European Grid Initiative Design Study) took place from September 2007 to December 2009. It established the conceptual and logistical framework for a permanent organisation to oversee the operation and development of the Grid on a Europe-wide level.
Formed in February 2010, EGI.eu is the organisation that resulted from this study to ensure the long-term development and sustainability of European grid services and infrastructure. Since then, the infrastructure has been expanded through collaborations with other projects around Europe – notably BalticGrid (for the Baltic States), SEEGrid (for South Eastern Europe) and the Nordic DataGrid Facility (for Scandinavia).
A four-year project called EGI-InSPIRE supports and co-funds EGI.eu operations with a common goal – to create a seamless system ready to serve the demands of present and future scientific endeavours.