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Profile - Craig Lee, president of Open Grid Forum

Profile - Craig Lee, president of Open Grid Forum

Craig Lee

Image courtesy Craig Lee

iSGTW and BELIEF-II (Bringing Europe’s eLectronic Infrastructures to Expanding Frontiers - Phase II) teamed up to find out what the speakers at the 4th BELIEF International Symposium think about the state of e-infrastructures in Latin America. Here, we interview Craig Lee, who is giving a presentation on “Future Trends and e-Infrastructure application: towards sustainable development.”

What is your job?

I’m serving as president of the Open Grid Forum. In this capacity, my role is not only to be the “public face” of OGF, but more importantly to understand all of our stakeholders’ requirements, and to promote all possible synergies among our current — and new — stakeholders.

How is your job related to the development and application of grids and e-infrastructures?

Obviously my job is to promote the development and use of all manner of distributed computing platforms — regardless of whether they are called grids, e-infrastructures, or clouds. This is part of what I mean by promoting all possible synergies.

Which are the most challenging and interesting parts of your position?

One of the most interesting parts of my job is the opportunity to be exposed to such a wide range of user groups, application domains and requirements. This includes traditional “big science” grid computing, but also aviation, civil protection, decision support systems, autonomic systems, visualization, human-in-the-loop systems, satellite ground systems — the list just goes on and on. The most challenging part of my job is getting groups from different organizations that may actually be doing related or complimentary work to start collaborating.

In what ways do you see grids and e-Infrastructures helping researchers?

In the past, many of us concentrated on providing access to computational resources, i.e., “big iron.” Nowadays, the focus really has shifted to providing access to data resources — massive data stores and archives that have an inherently distributed user base. Such user scenarios are wide spread and there needs to be common best practices for easy and secure access.

Image copyright OGF  

In your opinion, what is the most important achievement in this field?

I think the most important achievement has been the wide- spread understanding of the potential of e-infrastructures. To paraphrase Chris Smith (OGF vice-president of standards), grids were historically about federation among sites and access to resources. The cloud concept is centered around a simplified interface to abstracted resources that enables a clear business model. While many people think that grids and clouds are competing, they are actually complementary technologies that are changing how people think about IT infrastructures and how to use them for science, engineering, industrial, and societal benefit.

What do you believe is the most important challenge being faced today?

In many respects, the most challenging issues facing distributed computing platforms are not technical, but rather political, legal and social issues. E-infrastructures offer the potential for an unprecedented level of resource-sharing that organizations are just beginning to grapple with.  For example, if you store your data in a cloud, which country can it physically reside in? If two different organizations are participating in a service architecture, how are security requirements and service level agreements expressed and enforced? What are the liability issues if they are not met? From a technical perspective, I think we can address many of these issues, but the adoption of such capabilities will be slowed until the non-technical mechanisms are part of the “culture.”

In what ways could regions such as Latin America benefit from the advancements in grids and e-infrastructures technologies in other countries?

Clearly, Latin America can leverage all of the successful work in e-infrastructures that has gone on elsewhere in the world that is most relevant and important for local requirements. I certainly think that inherently distributed systems for public benefit — such as environmental monitoring and protection, disaster response, precision agriculture, weather forecasting and aviation — are all possibilities for countries and societies around the world. 

Another possibility I see is governments maintaining cloud-based services for their internal enterprises and providing the same for the public services.

Do you see a potential for collaboration and knowledge exchange between the U.S. and Latin America, in regards to research, development, and applications?

Absolutely. In all of the application domains I just mentioned, I would hope and expect that Latin American organizations would have definite interest. I am looking forward to learning first-hand what first steps we can take, and how OGF can help broker synergies among organizations around the world.

As told to Manisha Lalloo, GridTalk for iSGTW

Thanks to the BELIEF team for their contribution to this article.

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