Grid computing founder: 'Science needs to travel faster'

Read a longer version of this article at International Science Grid This Week

Earlier this month, Ian Foster, widely recognized as one of the founders of grid computing, spoke at TedxCERN about science being a voyage of discovery. However, he is frustrated by what he perceives to be an unnecessarily slow pace of discovery.

Speaking to an audience of CERN IT members the day before his TedxCERN talk, Foster explained that a lack of access to IT infrastructures is hampering the rate of progress of many smaller laboratories.

“I believe that there’s a tremendous amount of science that isn’t getting done today because labs lack the central cyber infrastructure,” he says. “Most labs can’t afford to build out the sophisticated and vertically integrated machinery that something like high-energy physics is able to use, so we’ve got to find new ways of delivering essential services to these people.”

“We have managed to create exceptional infrastructure for the 1%, but what about the rest?” asks Foster. “We have big science, but small labs. How do we deliver cyber infrastructure to small groups? They need something that is frictionless, affordable and sustainable.”

Foster, who is director of the Computation Institute, says that cloud computing offers an excellent way to deliver such services for science. Providing IT services in a simple, easy-to-use manner is important, to make life simpler for scientists and allow them to concentrate on doing research, he says. “Cloud may be the latest buzzword, but it is also a very exciting realization of the sort of things we’ve been working on for many years.”

Read more: "Science is a voyage"  - International Science Grid This Week