Highlights from the International Symposium on Grids and Clouds

This blog post was written by our colleague, Yin Chen, who attended the ISGC conference in Taipei, Taiwan.


The International Symposium on Grids and Clouds (ISGC) 2017 was held from 5 to 10 March in Taipei, Academia SINICA. It was attended by the EGI community from both Asian Pacific and European regions.  Having been successfully running for 15 years, ISGC has become one of EGI’s major platforms for the east to meet the west.

It was my first time to attend ISGC, and I was very excited to see many high quality e-Science researches and advanced grid/cloud service/applications being presented by EGI Asian communities. For example, during the environmental computing workshop, Prof. Chuan-Yao Lin showed us how to use a a weather, research & forecasting model (WRF ) to simulate the track of the typhoon Haiyan. The tsunami happened in November 2013, caused 6,340 confirmed fatalities, 1,061 missing people, and ~$2.86 billion USD damage. The analysis was conducted by the simulation portal developed by the Disaster Mitigation Competence Center (led by Prof. Simon C. Lin and Prof. Eric Yen and part of the EGI-Engage project). The portal provides a WRF and modified iCOMCOT modeling facilities, using the SINICA grid cluster. Other simulations were also generated via the portal, including the 2014-15 Malaysia flood event (21 people died and more than 250,000 people were displaced from their homes).

Moreover, Prof Jung-Hsin Lin described in his keynote talk how they used big-data analysis approach in identifying good targets in drug discovery for unmet medical needs.

The conference attracted participants from major Asian Pacific countries. We heard the updates of e-Science activities from national level research centers of Japan, China, Taiwan, Mongolia Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippine, Singapore, India, Australia, and Pakistan.

Some highlights include:

  • The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) runs world top 1 and top 2 HPC, performing petascale operations per second. The CNGrid operated by CAS currently consists of 15 sites, 120 applications in the system, supporting over 900 users. During 2016, more than 10 thousands cores were used. In the next 5 years, their plan is to:
      • Continue to give support for research
      • Build cloud for 50+ pflops 100Gb network
      • Establish systems for intellectual CAS
      • Modify the current grid environments
      • Enroll exascale HPC project
  • Singapore e-Science has been focusing on networking connectivity. 100Gbit networks are setup between Singapore and other countries. A recent experiment has demonstrated the transferring of 1TB data between Singapore and US within 24 seconds. With such capacity, moving large-scale data is no longer a problem. TBs of data can be transferred on the fly.
  • Taiwan Academia SINICA has close collaborations with the EGI European community. They are among the pioneers in the Asian Pacific region to pick up the topics such as “open data” and “open science”. However, the initial response by Asian researchers does not seem very enthusiastic.
  • Glenn from NeCTAR presented the Australian research data cloud. They have a lot of experience in community engagement and industry involvement. And their future plan is more on maintaining operation and deepening the partner relationship with domain of science.

It seems to me that e-Science in the Asian Pacific region is still actively served as applications hubs to support their research communities to use the national e-Infrastructures. Grid is still the dominant technology (so far no Asian national e-infrastructures joined the EGI Cloud Federation). The technology evolution seems slightly behind Europe, nevertheless, it turns out to allow more time for deepening research, advancing application/service, and improving education of community and young generations.

There are strong needs for deepening the collaborations between Asia and Europe. Services and applications developed by European community such as DIRAC, WRF, are well taken up and have a large user base in Asia. And training is highly requested by Asian users. Prof Xuebin Chi from the Chinese Academy of Sciences also expressed his willingness of collaborations with Europe, for example, in areas of domain scientific research, grid, and performance.

It has been a lovely time at the ISGC. The hospitality, the amazing food, and the beautiful island scene – all of these put some nice smiles on people’s face.