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EGI in a Virtual World

Why virtualisation? Simple, in order to meet the demand of new user communities with diverse requirements, EGI needs to improve the flexibility and efficiency of the infrastructure and empower virtual research communities with direct control on the service environments they offer to their end-users. Virtualisation provides the technology needed to achieve this vision and cloud computing as the operational model for delivering it.

EGI has been investigating these technologies over the past several months producing a state-of-the-art report and a technical EGI cloud integration profile, culminating at the first User Virtualisation Workshop held the second week of May 2011 in Amsterdam. 

The 70+ participants representing three critical groups within the European production infrastructure – End-users, Resource Providers and Technology Providers - came together to understand if and how EGI should move towards providing an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model. Specific issues in the key areas of monitoring, accounting, virtual machine management, and information services were discussed at length resulting in a set of critical observations in terms of requirements and operational issues to be developed into an integration roadmap. 

Several Technology Providers agreed to investigate and test the functionalities and capabilities of some identified technologies in which several of them were working. Also, a number of resource providers informally committed a part of their infrastructure for virtualisation efforts. However, the Big Bang may have been the start of the universe and subject of scientific studies, but will not be the model followed for integration. The adopted approach will rather be a gradual change transparent to the end user with no impact to the current production services. In order to accomplish this objective, a ‘testbed’ environment will be established leveraging existing expertise and activity in the community. Full minutes and a brief overview of the workshop are available online.

These discussions will continue over the next few months (cloud-discuss@mailman.egi.eu) with a follow-up community meeting during the EGI Technical Forum in Lyon this September (http://tf2011.egi.eu/).

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