The First International Conference on European Union and Chinese Grid Experiences, held in Beijing on 24-25 April, provided an outstanding platform for European and Chinese state-of-the-art Grid technologies and projects, showcasing results, new application areas and future advancements. The conference attracted some 150 experts and professionals from large enterprises, SMEs, academic and research organisations, government and public administration, international standardisation bodies, scientific and business associations from Europe, China and beyond. The event was organised by EchoGRID and EUChinaGRID, two projects funded by the European Commission, and hosted by the Institute of Computing Technology, Chinese Academy of Science.
The first day of the conference set the scene for ensuing discussions on themes of mutual interest and common challenges.
Dr Xiaohan Liao, Deputy Director, High & New Technology Department, of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) addressed over 150 attendants from research, business, government and scientific organisations. Alison Birkett, European Delegation to China, was delivering a welcome address highlighting the delegation's mission to extend and intensify the dialogue and co-operation in all the EU's areas of competence, particularly in ICT research and the EU-China Information Society Project. Keynote addresses were delivered by Chuncheng Wang, Division of Information, MOST, offering insight into Grid Research in China's High-Tech R&D Programme. The participants then heared from four key industrial actors: Wenbo Mao (HP Lab China); Xintai Wang (eStarCom Inc), Wayne Wang (Intervision Software), and Donpu Fu (TongTech).
Thematic Session 1 'Enterprise Challenges with Grids' was led by key business experts. Professor Jun-Seok Hwang, Seoul National University and head of several industrial associations, reported on the major challenges for Open Grid Services. Pawel Plaszczak, president of GridwiseTech (Poland), presented a series of fascinating Grid Technology case studies highlighting benefits for businesses. Dr Wei Zhou, CNIC, CAS, focused his presentation on the new context for innovative inter-disciplinary research offering added value to R&D activities.
The afternoon session of the first day opened with a key theme 'Interoperability'. Yongjian Wang, Beihang University, evaluated the challenging and multi-faceted issues related to interoperability, such as job management, data management, workflow and security. The mission of EUChinaGRID is to implement interoperability between CHGrid GOS and EGEE gLite. This talk presented the gatway-based solution proposed by EUChinaGRID aimed at implementing batch level job interoperability and providing a prototype to test it.
The presentation by Jianxin Li, also from Beihang University, revolved around the security architecture for CROWN (China Research & Development Environment over wide-area Network). The talk discussed the planned extensible framework enabling distributed access control & dynamic trust establishment between service providers and consumers in a Grid environment. CROWN Grid research into policy negotiation & virtual organisation security management was also discussed.
Dr. Gang Chen, IHEP, offered insight into LCG, a Grid project aiming to provide HEP computing infrastructure for Large Hadron Collider (LHD) experiments at CERN (Switzerland). Dr. Chen gave an overview of the architecture and design of the LHC computing Grid, and reported on experiences in deploying LCG in China.
The afternoon concluded with six demos:
Maciej Malawski, Jagiellonian University (Poland): Biological applications in EUChinaGRID
Zhao Yongwang, Beihang University (China): Seismic Data Processing
Boqun Cheng, ICT (China): the VEGA PROJECT
the CROWN Team (China): CROWN
Clement Mathieu, Denis Caromel, and Yu Feng, INRIA (France): the ProActive Java GRID Middleware Library.
The second day started with a session dedicated to new programming paradigms. It included a talk by Professor Zhiwei Xu, Institute of Computing Technology, CAS, entitled "Network Centric Operating Systems". Professor Huamin WANG, NUDT (China), gave a presentation on Internet Virtual Computing Environment (IVCE), while Denis Caromel, INRIA (France) discussed Grid component models and active objects.
Andrea Manieri, Engineering (Italy) presented the NESSI vision on research challenges. The European Technology Platform, NESSI (Networking Software and Service Initiative) aims to create synergies and help pave the way for the future Service-based Economy for Europe. Enterprises and research organisations have come on board this project and its working groups to discuss future research challenges. NESSIGrid will foster collaboration in the Grid Research Area and support NESSI in the definition of a strategic research agenda for the context of Grid and Service-Oriented Infrastructure.
The talk by Zsolt Nemeth, SZTAKI (Hungary), looked at a highly abstract coordination model for distributed workflow enactment where decentralised control, autonomy, adaptation to high dynamics and partial lack of information are primary concerns. The talk illustrated how this model provides a framework where complex workflow patterns and advanced issues of enactment can be modelled.
The thematic session on management in Grids highlighted the increasing need for management mechanism enabling Grid computing to satisfy diverse application requirements. The presentation by Professor Zhongzhi Luan, Beihang University, explained why management should be an essential attribute of Grid on account of the large-scale Grid environment and rapid extension in terms of both resources and networking. Management mechanisms need to be flexible and automated. Professor Luan discussed the state of the art, key issues and useful technologies and related research activities. The talk by ETICS project representative, Andrea Manieri, revolved around a quality certification model for Grid research projects, showcasing the ETICS feasibility study. ETICS is aimed at developing a Grid-based infrastructure for building and testing distributed software. ETICS tools take care of the whole integration-build-testing-packaging phase crucial for many research projects.
Chinese national Grid initiatives were the focus of the session dedicated to on-going research versus enterprise challenges. The three initiatives in the spotlight were ChinaGrid, CROWN and CNGrid.
A roundtable on future collaborative scenarios discussing and evaluating key areas for future co-operation for innovation, closed the conference.
During the conference, INRIA provided a two-day free ProActive tutorial. ProActive has been successfully used as a strong vehicle for interoperability in the first three Grid Plugtests events, and it is also the current reference implementation of the Grid Component Model (GCM). Moreover, as an open source middleware part of the OW2 consortium (http://www.ow2.org), ProActive is being used by several industrial companies in production applications.
The conference was co-organised by ERCIM, coordinator of the EchoGRID project. A second EchoGRID workshop on European-Chinese collaboration in Grid research and technologies will be held in conjunction with the Grids@Work 2007 Joint European Union - China GRID Days in Beijing, on 28 October to 2 November 2007 (see announcement on page 70).
Bruno Le Dantec, EchoGRRID project manager