“IT today is woven into the fabric of science and business; it’s an integral part of research, engineering and enterprise,” says Herbert Cornelius of Intel. He was speaking at the ‘IT requirements for the next generation of research infrastructures workshop’, held at CERN on Friday 1 February 2013. The event brought together leading figures in the IT sector from both the industrial and academic research communities. Together, participants worked on outlining the IT requirements of the next generation of scientific research infrastructures in Europe, as well as discussing procurement plans and building a joint technology roadmap.
CERN was an ideal location to host the event, given the world-leading IT infrastructure which is needed to support the research efforts of the scientists working at the organisation. Sergio Bertolucci, director for research and scientific computing at CERN, heaped praise on the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid for the key role it played in enabling the discovery of the new Higgs-like boson last year. “It has worked well beyond specification... it was fundamental to the success,” he says.
Laurence Field, IT and data management topic leader for the CRISP project, elaborated on the challenges faced by IT infrastructure in facilitating scientific research at large physics research organisations like CERN. “With each decade, data rates increase,” says Field. “As we go towards 2020, we’re looking at data rates of terabytes per second.”
“The complete data set for the previous accelerator here at CERN, the LEP collider, was just a few terabytes, whereas the just first year of data for the Large Hadron Collider was in the order of petabytes,” says Field. “We really have to understand how we can deal with these increasing data rates.”
Bob Jones, the head of CERN openlab, highlighted the importance of organisations from the public and private sectors working together to tackle the IT challenges the next generation of research infrastructures is likely to create. “We see this as a win-win public-private partnership between research and industry,” says Jones.