In a recent speech, Viviane Reding, a member of the European Commission's (EC) commission responsible for
information society, spoke very openly and encouragingly
about the value of Grid computing to the continent.
Reding commended CERN for its work on the World Wide Web and Grid
computing, specifically its work in establishing the EGEE project, and
said that Grid is now facing the same challenge that the Web did 15
years ago: to demonstrate that it can move beyond the realm of research
and academia, and start showing benefits for business and society.
However, she did not leave task to the folks at CERN, but instead
called upon the EC and EU member nations to make it happen.
Reding stated that Grid will be a "crucial enabling technology" in
achieving her i2010 (European Information Society 2010) initiative,
which looks to promote cooperation between industry and Member States
in order to achieve a borderless European information space, stimulate
innovation, and make the European Information Society as inclusive,
secure and accessible as possible.
When speaking about Europe's investment in information and
communication technologies (ICT), Reding said, "The message is clear:
Europe is not sufficiently investing in its future." She was referring
to Europe's 38 percent of private research spending being targeted at
ICT versus the worldwide average of 60 percent. To meet this end,
Reding called for Europe to step up its effort in this area to hit a
mark of 3 percent of the European Union's gross domestic product by
She also said that the EC has requested a doubling of the research
budget for the Seventh Framework Program. The proposed budget of more
than 70 billion Euros over seven years is more than double that of the
Sixth Framework Program in terms of annual budget.
Although the proposed budget is already a hefty sum, Reding believes
its impact can be can be magnified by ensuring the coordination of
European and national research programs.
Said Reding, "Despite having centers of excellence in all countries and
research leadership in some areas, such as Grid technologies, the
fragmentation of research activities in Europe represents a major
handicap, in particular when compared to the U.S. and Japan."
To resolve this problem, she suggested the creation of a "European
Research Area (ERA) initiative designed to create an "internal market"
in research and restructure the European research fabric. In the long
run, she hopes such an initiative will lead to sustained collaboration
among research programs and transnational programs funded by more than
one country, among other things. Reding noted that the already
initiated GridCoord project has gone along way toward meeting these
However, this investment in information and communication technologies
cannot fall solely on the shoulders of the government, Reding said.
"Industry, too, must very seriously increase its commitment to funding
research." Industry has been quite helpful on the Grid front already,
and Reding called industry's steps to create a multi-national Grid
platform an "encouraging sign."
Speaking of Europe's thriving Grid community, Reding pointed out that
while the continent is strong on research, commercial exploitation of
Grid computing can still be strengthened.
"Put simply," she said, "Grid technologies are at a turning point in
their evolution for industry to step in and transform the world class
research results into key services to drive European growth in the 21st
Reding also commended the proposed technology platform on
service-oriented architecture that is currently being discussed as "an
appropriate response to the trends in the ICT market, which are seeing
a shift from the sales of products toward the provision of on-demand
services." Grids, she said, are an excellent enabler of
service-oriented knowledge utilities. However, she again stressed the
importance to coordination between the research and industry sectors to
make this a reality.
Finally, Reding spoke about the areas where Grids, although not fully
mature, have made significant impacts. Among those she spoke about were
the multimedia sector, where smaller businesses have been able to use
Grid technologies to perform compute-intensive tasks that were
previously out of their price ranges for the most part; and the
automotive sector, where design, simulation and testing tools can be
integrated into a Grid environment -- leading to the production of
safer, more reliable and higher quality cars.
She also mentioned the effects that Grid technology is having on
society as a whole, where emergency response Grids lead to better
management of dangerous situations, such as those caused by natural
disasters. Grids can also be used for early warning and prediction of
natural disasters, she added. These early successes provide strong
testimony for European Grid leadership, Reding said, but the new
challenge is to develop "compelling and imaginative business cases"
that will Grid to fulfill its potential in regard to improving EU
Once the agendas of business and research are aligned and in harmony,
said Reding, "Europe is in an excellent position to shape and steer a
technological revolution via Grid technologies."
The full text of Reding's speech can be viewed at http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/05/308&form