After ten years of hard work within the EGI operations community we have succeeded in developing a world-leading production infrastructure. The achievement is significant and celebrates the commitment of this community from the days of the European DataGrid project right up to the transition from the EGEE series of projects, to the first year of EGI-InSPIRE.
Now... What are we going to do with this e-infrastructure? How are we going to make the most of EGI, consolidate the investments over the last decade and develop our current e-infrastructure into a driver of knowledge and innovation across Europe?
The next step in this journey is to focus on developing the non-operational aspects such as policy and strategy, planning, marketing, communication, events, and – above all – outreach to new communities.
The message from the EGI-InSPIRE's project first review could not have been clearer: we need to improve these areas to guarantee our own sustainability.
There are certainly many examples of excellence within individual NGIs in the areas of policy, support and outreach. However, the challenge facing us now is how to ensure that we bring this work together and integrate these activities into a European-wide strategy, by sharing experiences and establishing best practices.
Following the June review, the EGI-InSPIRE Description of Work is being amended to merge the External Relations (NA2) and User Community Coordination (NA3) work packages to refocus on the non-operational tasks of strategic development and outreach to new user communities. Key to these changes is the development of a new role, currently being referred to as an NGI Coordinator who will help to integrate national non-operational tasks taking place in an NGI into a community-wide strategy that is aligned with national priorities.
From a practical point of view, the NGI Coordinator role is created from the consolidation of scattered NA2 & NA3 effort, now concentrated within an NGI to support this new position. It provides a means for the community to tap into the distributed expertise that lies within an NGI (brought together via the NGI Coordinator) through the establishment of virtual teams around short-term projects. These could include integrating a new user community and their applications into EGI, developing requirements for a new service – anything that requires mixed teams from across different NGIs.
With the NGI Coordinator acting as a spearhead, individual NGIs will be able to demonstrate their added value at a European level and to share their skills with the whole community.
Working together with teams in EGI.eu, the NGI Coordinator will link the non-operational activities taking place in their own NGIs with the rest of the community. The initial phase of this work will focus on defining a long-term strategy for EGI and to engage new user communities, both locally and at a European level.
Synchronising local work with global activities will enable us to increase both the number of users and the diversity of our user community. Supporting a strong user base and a growing number of research communities will help us to demonstrate the importance of further investment nationally and within Europe.
The first meeting of NGI Coordinators will take place in Amsterdam, on the 10th of November. I’m confident that this will be the start of a fruitful new way of collaborating that will help us all along our path to sustainability. •