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Project profile: PL-Grid

Project profile: PL-Grid

Legacies of older architectures exist along side the new in Poland, and not just in research computing: Here contemporary architecture in Warsaw reflects the past. Image courtesy Jaime Silva, Flickr, under Creative Commons license

Beyond being at the geographic center of Europe, Poland plays a central, leading role in Europe’s grid community. In 2009, Poland became the first country to form an independent and autonomous National Grid Initiative — an operational unit, based in a single country, set up to run a national computing infrastructure to support the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI).

With the close of the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE project, the health of the EGI is dependent upon such NGIs — and the technical process developed by Poland to move away from the parent EGEE ROC is a model other countries will look to. PLGrid itself is one of a series of NGIs to form as legal entities over the last few years, particularly in South Eastern Europe - the Serbian NGI, AEGIS, was legally established in 2005.

Polish computer science academics committed to grid computing early. Those at the heart of Poland’s NGI today — PL-Grid — were at the international conferences where Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman first presented their new concept for distributed computing. They became involved in the EGEE project in 2004, running a Regional Operations Center, or ROC, in Krakow.

They were part of many international grid and high performance computing projects, such as CROSSGRID, GridStart,, K-Wf Grid, CoreGrid and Gredia. Members of today’s PL-Grid participated in EGI’s predecessor project, known as the EGI_DS (EGI Design Study), and they now participate in the EGI Council, the EGI Executive Board and the EGI-InSPIRE project. (For a more thorough description of EGI, see the May 2010 GridBriefing from GridTalk.) The PL-Grid Project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, as part of the Innovative Economy program.

 Image courtesy Polish Grid.

Why were Polish researchers so willing to commit to grid computing as a technology and EGI as an organization?

PL-Grid Director Jacek Kitowski says there were two compelling reasons: “We were interested in helping the users in Poland. Many of our researchers need really big computational power. These users were asking their universities for more power and going to other computing centers outside Poland when they couldn’t get it. So we thought it’d be useful for them to run their work on their local cluster.”

“On the other hand, there is a strong need for Poland to be involved in international collaboration. The more we support international collaborations and developing technology, the more opportunity there is for our young people. They will be up-to-date on current innovation and have the chance to participate and contribute at the international level.”

Poland formed its NGI through the PL-Grid Project. By the end of this year, researchers will be able to access 185 Teraflops of processing power and 1900 Terabytes of storage through PL-Grid.

PL-Grid is also seeking to improve standard grid technology through innovations like GridSpace2, a virtual “workbench” in which the user conducts virtual experiments and grid and HPC-based resources: directories, computing elements, services and libraries.

To help interested researchers make the most of PL-Grid’s offerings, the NGI hosts many training sessions and events throughout the year.

—Danielle Venton, for iSGTW. For information about their offerings, or to request a special training session, visit PL-Grid.

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