The EUAsiaGrid Roadmap outlines the path towards a persistent and sustainable e-Infrastructure for research in the Asia-Pacific region. The document has now been submitted to the European Commission for review and we are inviting comments from stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region.
 Executive Summary
The purpose of the EUAsiagrid Roadmap is to analyse the policy context in which the EUAsiaGrid project is operating and to define an organisational and technical roadmap as a response to this in order to further the establishment of a persistent and sustainable e-Infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region that is integrated with the European e-Infrastructures for research and supports active user communities across different research disciplines.
Large and complex research challenges facing today’s societies require the collaboration of researchers from many different scientific disciplines, using resources that are not localised in one site. Such collaborations use huge amounts of data coming from different sources and cross not only institutional, but also national boundaries. To realise such collaborating research programmes, a number of challenges have to be overcome, such as overcoming differences in local approaches and policies and making distributed resources available in ways that are efficient and dependable. A series of initiatives around the globe are creating and operating usable e-Infrastructures that provide common services to share resources and data and to support barrier-less collaboration among researchers. Recently, they have begun to become more mature, moving from project-oriented funding and operation towards a more sustainable model to provide long-term stability for the e-Infrastructures, recognising them as basic components of advanced research environments. Their impact is being felt far beyond the world of academic research as their uses expand to and impact on industrial applications and applications in the public and voluntary sectors.
Europe is leading this transformation process with the establishment of a European Grid Initiative (EGI), using results of the EU-funded EGI Design Study project to transform EGEE and similar e‑Infrastructures into a new EGI infrastructure based on National Grid Initiatives as its building blocks. Based on the experiences gained over a number of years, Europe is also encouraging and supporting the development of similar regional e-Infrastructure initiatives in other regions of the world that can be integrated with the European EGI. The EUAsiaGrid project, one of the activities funded by the European Commission, worked in collaboration with the EGEE Asia Federation to establish a core grid e‑Infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. In this document, we describe the current state of this infrastructure, the application areas already using it and the scientific achievements resulting from its use. We then outline a proposal for steps leading to a persistent and sustainable e-Infrastructure based on resource provision at the national level with strategic leadership and coordination through representation of member nations in a newly formed Asia-Pacific Grid Initiative (APGI). Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have already laid foundations for their national e-Infrastructures. For example, in Singapore National Grid Service Providers were commissioned by the Infocomm Development Authority to provide compute and storage resources based on the utility model. The Korean Institute for Science and Technology (KISTI) has been instrumental in development of operational e-Infrastructures in Korea. The KnowledgeGrid initiative has a similar broad aim in Malaysia. All these and similar initiatives aim to leverage the power of information technologies to increase the potential for innovation across all research areas as well as industrial and public sectors.
While grid infrastructures were originally constructed to support research in particle physics with its emphasis on large-scale international collaborations, many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, especially those participating in the EUAsiaGrid project, are now using their potential to pursue applications with clear and direct societal and economic benefits, such as bioinformatics for neglected diseases, climate and weather modelling, natural disaster mitigation, or engineering. The focus on these broader applications has important consequences for the development of e-Infrastructures, as it is not sufficient to provide the technological platform. Rather, the emphasis must be placed on community building to bring together a wider range of stakeholders from within different research communities but also from industry, the public sector and potential funders. The long-term nature of these efforts mean that the development of an e-Infrastructure for research needs to be embedded within the wider context of national and international initiatives to develop research policies for the benefit of the societies of the region. Predictable and dependable funding streams are important but policy makers also need to provide appropriate frameworks for open access to data and publications, training regimes that enable future generations of researchers to utilise the resources available and legislation on data protection as well as intellectual property.
The Asia-Pacific region has benefited from the participation in the LHC experiments at CERN and the corresponding development of a number of components of a mature grid infrastructure. The initial support has been provided by Academia Sinica Grid Computing in Taiwan and additional infrastructure components were established as part of the work conducted within the EUAsiaGrid project. Thanks to these activities, researchers in the Asia-Pacific region can now use an advanced grid infrastructure that provides resources through the EUAsia virtual organisation as well as other, discipline-specific virtual organisations. An analysis of the current status shows the main issues that must be addressed in the transformation from the current state to a more sustainable infrastructure: the lack of federation, the lack of mature national grid initiatives, and the lack of a governance model at the international level.
Based on the experience with creating regional grid infrastructures in Europe and in Latin America and building on the experience with existing regional collaborations at the network level such as APAN, we provide a roadmap for the formation of a distributed e-Infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region. The first step is the establishment of the Asia Pacific Grid Initiative (APGI) to provide international coordination and collaboration within the region. This is especially important as there are no political structures in the region providing the same level of coordination provided by the European Commission. APAN has been successfully established in the area of networking to provide international coordination based on national networking initiatives and efforts like PRAGMA demonstrate that there is sustained interest in the use of grid technologies for research. This demonstrates that there is potential within the region to develop a persistent sustainable e‑Infrastructure based on national initiatives and funding with the APGI providing the necessary international collaboration platform and coordination mechanisms that will ensure that the societal benefits are maximised. As national grid initiatives are not yet established in many countries and international collaboration is very fragmented, it is not possible to simply suggest a straightforward adoption of a model such as the one provided by the EGI Blueprint. Instead, this roadmap proposes to start with the development of the AGPI as an umbrella organisation for different collaborations of individual institutions. Over time, these collaborations will give rise to the development of coalitions of institutions collaborating at the national level, based on local institutes that have already proved their willingness to foster the e-Science approach through their active involvement, for example within EU-funded research projects. In order for the APGI to be scalable and sustainable, these coalitions will need to evolve into fully-fledged National Grid Initiatives (NGI) with the necessary funding and societal mandate.
At the international level, the roadmap proposes the creation of the APGI as a lose federation of institutions agreeing to a set of general operating principles and procedures that ensure a sufficient degree of coordination and collaboration between individual institutions and coalitions while leaving them free to establish the internal governance mechanisms and operating principles that they require. To distinguish these initial arrangements from the model that the roadmap ultimately aims to establish – the APGI as an incorporated international organisation based on the representation of National Grid Initiatives – we will call it the Asia-Pacific Grid Initiative Union (APGI-U). It will play the role of a forum for the exchange of expertise in the development of sustainable e-Infrastructures and through its standard operating principles and procedures will foster an increasing alignment of initiatives at the national level with the emerging Asia-Pacific e-Infrastructure, laying the foundations for a transition towards a model based on formal representation by National Grid Initiatives and the establishment of APGI as an incorporated international organisation comparable to the EGI.eu organisation in Europe.
At the operational level, APGI-U will build on the existing infrastructure established through the EGEE Asia Federation and the EUAsiaGrid project, leveraging existing arrangements such as the Asia-Pacific Grid Policy Management Authority for the governance of certification authorities and the Asia-Pacific Regional Operating Centre for operational support and monitoring of the e-Infrastructure. APGI-U will also work closely with other projects and initiatives within the region – such as APAN at the network level and PRAGMA to exchange expertise about evolving grid technologies. At the global level, collaboration with EC-funded initiatives will be ensured through participation of institutional members in the EGI-InSPIRE and CHAIN project proposals. Indeed, the JRUs established for these projects will ensure a level of effort that will play an important role in sustaining the ongoing evolution of the Asia-Pacific e-Infrastructures and associated support for scientific applications.
The EUAsiaGrid roadmap outlines a model for the gradual establishment of the necessary national and international structures required to continue to build and to sustain an Asia-Pacific e‑Infrastructure for research. Starting from a flexible model based on the federation of individual contributing institutions, the model contains the necessary elements that will ensure that the structure can evolve over time to accommodate a larger number of participating resource providers and users by introducing National Grid Initiatives as important entities that can coordinate activities at a national level, allowing the national coordination of funding arrangements and policy making while reaping the benefits gained by increased international collaboration.
The first steps to establish the APGI-U have already been taken with the help of the EUAsiaGrid project and as part of the preparation of the EGI-InSPIRE and CHAIN project proposals. APGI‑U is being formed based on the experiences made in the contexts of APAN and PRAGMA and will collaborate closely with these initatives, enabled by overlapping memberships. The standard operating principles and procedures that are part of this roadmap have been developed based on prior experience and with a view to ensuring openness while providing enough structure to ensure that the aim of establishing a persistent and sustainable e-Infrastructure can be achieved and that a reliable and predictable process is put in place that will encourage participation by all stakeholders, protential resource providers, funders and researchers alike.