Profile: EGI’s director, Steven Newhouse
Steven Newhouse was recently appointed director of EGI.eu, a new, long-term organization tasked with coordinating the European Grid Infrastructure. Headquartered in Amsterdam, it will support Europe’s National Grid Initiatives as they operate the infrastructure which was built by the projects DataGrid, EGEE-I, -II and -III. He will leave his post at CERN as EGEE technical director to head EGI.eu (and the EGI-InSPIRE project). Former iSGTW editor Danielle Venton sat down with him to ask a few questions.
iSGTW: How would you describe EGI.eu?
Newhouse: EGI.eu is a group of people dedicated to working with colleagues in National Grid Infrastructure across Europe, and making those resources available to a diverse set of user communities across the European research area.
iSGTW: How did you come to EGI?
Newhouse: I came to EGI via a long, torturous route that started off in the UK. Nearly 10 years ago, I was involved in some of the early activities with the old European Data Grid. From there I was involved deeply in the UK e-Science program, which I stayed involved in for six years.
I then moved to America for a break, working with Microsoft. It was there that I saw that this position was available as the technical director within EGEE — and I was lucky enough to be awarded this appointment. So I came back over to Europe to find that the vision for the European Grid Initiative had progressed in the three years I was away.
And this is something I have become increasingly involved and interested in over the last year.
iSGTW: How did you first become interested in computing?
Newhouse: Primarily as a user. As part of my research, many, many years ago, I needed to do large computer simulations. I was modelling underwater acoustic scattering — seeing how sound waves reflect off submerged submarines. This started to require larger resources than I had on my desktop. I started to get into high performance computing, which led me to grid computing. I then moved more towards being a provider of resources than a user.
iSGTW: What is your take on the nature of the grid and e-infrastructures?
Newhouse: E-infrastructures are becoming more essential to all of our lives, both as researchers and as individuals.
As a researcher, the diversity of resources you need to do your work is getting ever greater.
One of the challenges is finding these and having them brought together in a unified whole. This is one of the main focuses of EGI and why I think its future is so exciting.
Bringing together the diverse resources: grid computing, with its high throughput clusters, high performance computing resources and the emerging cloud resources, along with all of the data storage and analysis tools you need — bringing all of those together so that you only need one password, one accounting system, and one management system, is an incredible challenge.
If we can achieve this, it will do wonders for European productivity and research capabilities in the decade to come.
iSGTW: What will you miss about leaving EGEE?
Newhouse: Leaving EGEE will mean leaving CERN. I’ve only been here 15 months and I’ve probably spent about half of that time away. But it’s an incredible place: incredible location and people. Moving away will be a real wrench.
iSGTW: What are you looking forward about moving on to Amsterdam?
Newhouse: The great thing about Amsterdam is that I can pick up on my cycling – which I haven’t touched in 15 years. Cycling is a fundamental part of Dutch life – there’s no avoiding it!
I’m also looking forward to a more leisurely lifestyle. All the travelling I’ve done in the past 15 months has been exciting . . . but it’ll be nice to take things down a gear.
—As interviewed by Danielle Venton, EGEE, for iSGTW. For more about EGI, see the PDF of the just-released new GridBriefing, entitled "Sustainability for the future: The European Grid Infrastructure (EGI)."