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Meeting the partners at ISGC 2011 part two

I mentioned the food in my last post but the catering here really has to be experienced to be believed. A traditional Chinese greeting is “Have you eaten?” rather than “Hello”… and I’ve been told that if you finish all the food on the plate, you risk offending your host by implying that they did not provide enough for you. Seeing as practically every meal has run to more than 10 courses so far, there is not much danger of that…

This morning I attended another session featuring some of our partners, fighting the catering-induced torpor that has built up over the week, to pick up the latest developments in some of the other regions where EGI spreads its influence.


Glenn Moloney from the University of Melbourne in Australia told us about an exciting new project, NeCTAR (National eResearch collaboration tools and resources). Using global resources is a particular challenge for Australian resources as they are physically a long long way from many of their collaborators, even those in their own, sparsely populated country. 

To encourage international collaboration, the Australian Government has set up a series of “Superscience” investments in areas such as data storage, HPC, networks and shared data. NeCTAR itself is part of the Shared Spaces and Infrastructure grant and is funded up until 2013. There are four streams for infrastructure development: Virtual laboratories, a national research cloud, software tools and a national server programme. They have a mandate to be responsive to the e-research sector and have already received many expressions of interest in participating in the consultation process from universities.


Cloud computing in Malaysia was introduced to us by Suhaimi Napis of UPM. Their NREN is funded through the Myren project, which connects 28 public and private universities to the rest of the world through TEIN3 and a combination of 1Gbps and multiple 622Mbps backbone. More organisations, both public and privately-funded, hospitals, polytechnics and community colleges, will join it during Myren2, eventually bringing together 64 institutions. They will support a range of e-Science, including bioinformatics, high energy physics, cheminformatics, agrobioinformatics, biodiversity, engineering, and e-culture for digital heritage. Myren2 will move Malaysia to petascale computing.


Peter Antonio Banzon updated us on grid and cloud in the Philippines. He works for ASTI , the R&D agency of the Philippine Government working on ICT and microelectronics. ASTI manages the NREN and the e-ScienceGrid (PSciGrid). The PSciGrid project received  1million dollars over 3.5 years and ends this June. Its objectives are to establish a national e-Science grid infrastructure to enable collaborative science in the areas of earth science and life science. Why these fields in particular? The Philippines lies in a zone extremely prone to typhoons, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and is also one of only 17 countries in the world designated as a megabiodiversity hotspot. Work in these areas is led through two projects aiming to boost grid computing and support the bioinformatics community. PSciGrid also runs a job submission portal at http://portal.pscigrid.gov.ph/gridsphere/gridsphere and also organises local training.


Hong-Quang Nguyen covered grids and clouds activities in Vietnam. Between 1995 and 2005, four HPC centres were set up in Hanoi and HCM city. Some problems exist with these clusters as they each use different infrastructures, are not connected to each other and they are used for privately-funded research. There is a lack of large scale applications and not enough cooperation between HPCand customers.

EGEE grids were introduced to Vietnam by CNRS, and they held training schools in 2007 and 2009. Two institutes participated in EUAsiaGrid, with 3 EGEE nodes in Hanoi. Recently, an international workshop on grid computing applications took place in Hanoi in December 2010. The local population has concerns related to healthcare, climate change, natural disasters, industrial and environmental risks. Grid and cloud computing represent an opportunity for Vietnam scientists to participate in research in these areas on a world stage. Several applications have been identified in the earth and life sciences – Vietnam aims to collaborate on these with the Asia Pacific Grid Initiative and provide tools. Ongoing projects incude gINFO, which provides a grid-based international network for flu observation, another project linking drug discovery to local biodiversity compounds and a project building databases of pre-calculated data on earthquake and tsunami scenarios. 

Finally, there is a project for on-demand WN deployment with virtualisation and cloud technologies. Grid applications are just beginning to develop in Vietnam thanks to CNRS and EUAsiaGrid although difficulties still remain – lack of experience, limited research funding, limited resources and bandwidth plus unreliable connections to countries outside Vietnam.


Singapore has an official masterplan when it comes to clouds, according to Tin-Wee Tan of NUS.

The Singapore Government masterplan involves using the resources already available in industry. Many government ministries are already using cloud eg the Youth Olympics of 2010. They are very pro adoption of cloud by SMEs and funding available for businesses, although businesses themselves provide most of the resources. Singapore also hosts a well-established series of CloudAsia and GridAsia conferences.

It’s not just all about industry however, there is also plenty of work going on in academia. NUS is one of EUAsiaGrid partners as well as in EGI-InSPIRE. Application areas include a web portal for drug discovery, HIV phylogenetic research and work on the urban spread of dengue fever, as well medical research in areas such as vaccine design and genome projects. 

So that’s all from the Asia Pacific partners, just one more day and the many courses of the conference dinner to go!




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