Viviane Li closes the curtain on the event
In the crisp cool air of a late-sprung Baltic springtime, more than 400 participants gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania over a four-day period to attend the EGI User Forum 2011. At the Radisson Blu on the edge of the Old Town, six conference tracks hosted a diverse programme of presenta-tions, demonstrations, exhibitions, posters and workshops.
Kostas Glinos, Head of the 'GÉANT & e-Infrastructure' Unit at the European Commission, commenced proceedings to an overfilled auditorium at the opening plenary and outlined the European vision for e-Infrastructure. Steven Newhouse, director of EGI.eu, followed with a summary of the last year’s achievements by the EGI-InSPIRE project and Alberto Di Meglio, director of the European Middleware Initiative (EMI), described the latest initiatives to deliver sustainable open source middleware stacks for European researchers.
This year’s User Forum, held in conjunction with the EMI Technical Conference, attracted a mixture of grid users and software developers. Six separate tracks reflected this diversity, from ‘User Environment’ to ‘Technologies for Distributed Computing’.
“The ‘User Support Services’ track was really successful,” enthused Gergely Sipos, a member of EGI.eu’s User Community Support Team. “We presented our services, discussed tools and the available training. The more users are aware of what we can offer, the better we can serve them. Also, all the services we have now, including those that previously existed in EGEE [Enabling Grid for E-sciencE], have been restructured and are better integrated with the EGI website.”
Another important outcome of the Forum for Sipos was the connection with new Virtual Research Communities (VRCs). “We made contact with VRCs that we weren’t familiar with before. We can now follow up with these contacts and try to understand their communities’ requirements better, so they can be met by the technology providers.”
End-users and software developers attended a lively exchange at the ‘Meet the Experts’ session hosted by EMI. The session aimed to connect users and developers with technology providers to create better middleware.
Further connections were affirmed at the EGI exhibition booth, where successions of Memoranda of Understanding and Service Level Agreements were signed, to rounds of applaud and camera flashes. These signings between EGI.eu and various projects formally solidify discussions into actions, representing real steps forward for future developments of the European grid.
From a local perspective, having the Forum in Vilnius helps to reinforce the current development of computing infrastructure in Lithuania and empower local scientists. Algimantas Juozapavičius from Vilnius University, project leader of the Lithuanian National Grid Infrastructure, is encouraged by the productive exchanges between computing specialists, the EGI policy team and local governmental officials, “this [distributed computing] infrastructure gives more resources in a more convenient way. Also, it stimulates researchers to expand their research… encourage additional contact with Lithuanian researchers.”
As the event drew to a close, and after the hefty hearty zeppelins (Lithuanian potato dumplings) which may have landed in your stomachs have been digested, EGI.eu is proud to have hosted its first User Forum to great success.
“The breadth and diversity of the EGI Community continues to amaze me,” said Newhouse. “The efforts spent over the last year defining what we can offer to user commu-nities and how we can interact with them have been clearly demons-trated during the User Forum.