A Strategic Vision for UK e-Infrastructure

esciencefutureEarlier this month a report was released entitled: A strategic vision for UK e-infrastructure: a roadmap for the development and use of advanced computing, data and networks.

The report was chaired by Professor Dominic Tildesley (a University of Southampton alumni by the way) and was commissioned by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. It was triggered by a July 2011 meeting bringing together academics, industrialists, hardware and software suppliers and experts from the Research Councils to discuss the establishment of an e-infrastructure for the UK. The participants concluded at the end of the meeting:

.. we are experiencing a paradigm shift in which the scientific process and innovation are beginning in the virtual world of modelling and simulation before moving to the real world of the laboratory. [… and] that to exploit this revolution we would require a fresh, collaborative approach to software development to bring scientific, industrial and public sector users and hardware and software developers and vendors closer together.

This follow up report outlines a ten-year strategy for the development and management of the UK’s e-infrastructure to support such a strong public-private partnership.

Its an interesting read and talks about the importance of software quite a bit:

The development of software will be at the heart of this new partnership. The investment will help to develop codes based on new ideas for the academic and industrial communities, will port legacy codes to high end machines for advanced simulation and data-intensive computing, will help to make academic software more robust, and will support the transfer of important commercial codes to high end machines.

Another quote:

“It is important to place a higher value upon the position of “scientific programmer” and also “data curator” in the academic environment and to offer more career opportunities to these staff. Scientific programmers combine the knowledge of the underlying scientific discipline with implementation, optimisation and parallelisation for high-end systems: they are important in obtaining highly-efficient application implementation”

So its nice to see they took some of our points on board, pity they did not end up in the recommendations. This did though and I’m not quite sure what to think of it yet:

Drive the development of software for all of the partners in the e-infrastructure. This is fundamental in establishing the value of e-infrastructure for the UK and has needs to be given an equal footing with the purchase of hardware and networking. To achieve this, we should establish a small number of internationally competitive software centres in the UK.

You can read the whole report here. Thoughts?

–Dirk

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