Edinburgh research team that created software used by scientists worldwide has received follow-on funding of GBP 1,86 million

Edinburgh 18 November 2005The OGSA-DAI project, based in the University of Edinburgh, is driving forward the complex area of scientific data access and integration, which in the future could provide us with better ways of screening for cancer or predicting destructive weather events. Since 2002, OGSA-DAI has been engaged in developing "Grid middleware", the software that supports the pooling of very large digital data collections and large-scale computing resources held at different sites across the globe. This is known as e-science. OGSA-DAI middleware is now used worldwide to support a whole raft of e-science projects. The project's development and research team are based at EPCC and NeSC, at the University of Edinburgh.


OGSA-DAI project leader Prof. Malcolm Atkinson stated: "This fantastic GBP 1,86 million grant gives an additional 3 year's funding for the excellent and very strong team at Edinburgh that has already produced data access and integration middleware used worldwide for major Grid projects. The funding gives us the opportunity to sustain our support of the community of 1500 registered users and the major applications, such as, in the United States, Cancer Grid and the LEAD project, which is focused on real-time data collection to predict tornado formation, and AstroGrid, a United Kingdom government-funded, open source project designed to create a working virtual observatory for British and international astronomers."

The grant is part of a three-year, GBP 3,8 million investment by the United Kingdom e-Science Programme to establish the Open Middleware Infrastructure Institute-UK (OMII-UK). Three British universities - Edinburgh, Manchester and Southampton - will pool their expertise, experience and resources gained from working on many other internationally-recognised and successful e-science projects.

Together these three centres represent a community of some 6000 users. By combining the centres' expertise in OMII-UK the e-Science Core Programme is establishing a powerful source of well-engineered software, enabling an integrated approach to the provision of higher level and more advanced tools than before, better tuned to the requirements of the research and development community. OMII-UK will provide a significant basis for international collaborations and standards, developing more advanced tools to empower new research in a wide range of disciplines.

Tony Hey, former Director of the Core Programme and now Vice President Technical Computing, Microsoft Corporation, stated: "I am delighted that the UK e-Science Programme's early investment in the OGSA-DAI project has paid off so well and that we now see a major contribution of open source middleware used throughout the world. The future of Grid computing will rest on our ability to access and integrate the worldwide cornucopia of information resources. The next challenge is to deliver easily used tools that make these powerful facilities accessible to every scientist."

Dr. Anne Trefethen, current Director, stated: "It is important that we have the means to support software developed under the UK e-Science Programme so we can sustain those components that researchers rely on. OMII-UK will provide this support and sustain the UK's leadership in e-Science."

The e-Science Core Programme is creating OMII-UK by funding Edinburgh and Manchester universities to join with OMII at the University of Southampton. The University of Edinburgh is contributing expertise gained through the OGSA-DAI project, which since 2002 has developed middleware that is now used worldwide to support data access and integration from diverse data sources. The University of Manchester's contribution builds on the myGrid project, which since 2001 has developed a set of easily used work flow-based tools that have been widely adopted to support biomedical research. The OMII at the University of Southampton was set up in 2004 to provide well-engineered e-Science middleware sourced from the e-Science community. In partnership with IBM, it has developed a robust software engineering process and is now working towards its third software distribution, incorporating components from partners in its managed programme.

Leslie Versweyveld

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