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Opinion - What I learned from the grid

I’ve learned many technically valuable things, yes, but it’s really working with people that has been the most important.” Image courtesy Soonwook Hwang

I have been leading grid-related  activities as the grid R&D team leader at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), in South Korea. We’ve been an official partner of EGEE since 2006, actively involved in grid operations and applications.

Looking back on the past four years, I feel we have gained a lot of experience in many areas of grid computing, including production grid operation, grid middleware, high-level grid tools, and application porting.

We’ve also been involved in grid developments, contributing to AMGA and GANGA. (AMGA is a gLite metadata catalogue service, while GANGA is a high-level job submission and management tool.)

KISTI has taken over leadership of AMGA development since July 2009 and we released last October AMGA2.0, in collaboration with CERN, INFN and the OGF WS-DAIS working group. KISTI is a partner of WISDOM as well — an international scientific collaboration using grid technologies to find potential drugs against neglected and emerging diseases such as Malaria and Avian Flu. Within WISDOM, we developed a GUI tool for grid-enabled virtual screening called DrugScreener-G with a goal of making it much easier for non technical users to carry out large-scale grid-enabled in-silico experiments.

To promote the adoption of grid technologies in Korea, we learned from EGEE (EGI’s predecessor) how to best host grid-related training events, such as Geant4, and a tutorial for the Korean medical physics communities. We had about 30 participants from major hospitals in Korea. During the training session, we teach them basic grid services and how to port and run their Geant4 applications on the grid.

Hosting such tutorials for me is a lot of fun because it gives me an opportunity to talk to people coming from different domains and get to know real-world applications, although it takes a lot of  time and effort!

But, while I have learned many technical things, I’d have to say that it is really working with people — learning to be part of a collaboration — that is the most important.

I’ve learned that good collaborations require a number of things, such as good organization — structure keeps our activities in motion. Good communication is also essential, as everyone needs to know what is going on, whether the communication be in the form of frequent phone conferences or face-to-face meetings. And, good cooperation is also important; to be a collaborator you have to listen and be a bit flexible. These are good lessons for everything!

I’m happy that I’ll get to continue using what I’ve gained from EGEE. KISTI hopes to be part of EGI and we’ll continue promoting the awareness and adoption of grid for Korean research and scientific communities by holding grid-related tutorials on a regular basis. Thanks and farewell to EGEE and welcome EGI!

Soonwook Hwang for KISTI, and Danielle Venton for iSGTW

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