Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The end to this chapter ... Turning the page!

Dear friends, the Digital Systems KTN finishes with its funding on March 31st. At this point the story of the rise and fall of Grid Computing and the emergence of Cloud Computing can be told. From the 1st of April I will shift to a new blogging platform, just for the change, and you will already find my introductory piece here.
I have been the Director of a KTN for 6 years and have had the privilege of working with a fine bunch of people from Malcolm Atkinson and Dave Berry at the National e-Science Centre at the University of Edinburgh, to Tara Kelly here at Intellect; Gillian Law at both NeSC and Intellect; and Mahesha Pandit here at Intellect. Along the way Mark Parsons covered our interests from EPCC also at the University of Edinburgh when Dave Berry left for service-orientated pastures anew. We have been grateful to many people in these organisations for their help as we learned how to deliver against the KTN vision, in many cases helping define it too!
We have also been grateful to colleagues from our industry, Dave Pearson, John Barr among many others, who have provided the intellectual horsepower, encouragement and support to allow our agenda to flourish and grow.
The last 2 years have been dominated by the KTN "optimisation" agenda driven by our paymasters the Technology Strategy Board, and we have successfully brought to life a Digital Systems KTN in the wake of the Grid Computing Now!, Cyber-Security and Location and Timing KTNs. It has been a pleasure to get to know Bob Cockshott and Tony Dyhouse and their colleagues at NPL and QinetiQ, as we have pulled together into a new KTN, in the full knowledge of the further change ahead. We are now merging with the Digital Communications KTN in the final stage of optimisation and my colleague Philip Hargrave and his employers the ICT KTN Co., will take over the administration of the grant from the TSB.
This leaves me free to concentrate on the task at hand, and you should read my new blog entry for more details on that. I will also have some more time to spend with my colleagues at Intellect, the UK High Technology Trade Association, too. I'm certainly looking forwards to spending more time on innovation and much less on administration!
As for the bottom line of our work, we publish the latest Annual Report for the Digital Systems KTN in the next few days and there'll be data aplenty to see there. But for the casual reader, we've successfully grown a new community of 1800, and rising, around our programme in the last year. Inheriting relatively few from our "legacy" communities. We've participated in more than 150 events, some of which were our own - but most of which enabled us to address new audiences. And we added 15 case studies to the portfolio making a total in excess of 60 available online, the vast majority of which describe successful adoption of distributed computing. I am also delighted to relate that there have been several notable successes in the adoption of distributed computing which I have had the privilege to personally witness in the past 6 years. Perhaps the most promising is eMediaTrack, an UK based start-up, now firmly rooted in Oxford for technology development purposes, while plying its trade in Korean Government. Korea is a nation which has stated a desire to "lead" the race to the Cloud for Government computing. I know, I was there at the event they announced it!! I was also personally involved in the development of the UK G-Cloud strategy for Government computing. This story is still being written. But the ideas are of great interest within and beyond our shores.
For those of you interested in the Grid to Cloud story. I think it is safe to say that the future of distributed computing, and services, lies firmly in the Cloud. Recent announcements of Grid services available in the Cloud have possibly made this point even more definitively. Recent announcements of cloud services available from national infrastructures also make an important point about ease of use and broad applicability of cloud based services. However, please don't be confused. Grid computing underpins the service infrastructures for all of the leading service providers. Open standards of the type being championed by OGF, are pivotal in the operation of these companies. And much of the learning from the Grid community will eventually come home to roost in Cloud services I am convinced. So with that thought I propose that we should declare victory at this point and move on to the brave new world of IT as a Service. That's my plan!

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