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e-Infrastructures

Although ESFRI has set up Working Groups to examine the issue of data management where research infrastructures are concerned, ESFRI focuses its efforts in this respect through a close working relationship with its sister organisation, the e-Infrastructure Reflection Group (the e-IRG).

Background

The expanding use of e-infrastructures will rapidly change the landscape of science. Remote access to computing services, new instrumentation and virtual organisations in general, creates new opportunities for researchers to bring existing applications to higher levels of usability and performance. Additionally, it enables researchers to deploy new strategies in approaching scientific problems with simulation tools and intensive applications. Young people will be growing up in this “Virtual Research Environment” and research training will need to reflect this.

E-Infrastructures stimulate the identification and creation of new scientific communities, uniting researchers who are working on similar challenges and are willing to share resources and reach new levels of collaboration. Researchers can gain access to scientific data and instruments located in top level laboratories around the world without the need to travel. The emergence of virtual organisations distributed throughout the world, helps researchers to share resources and to strengthen collaboration on common issues. Widespread use of e-infrastructures represents also an effective answer to problems such as the digital divide and brain drain. This is demonstrated by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which is serving the worldwide community of particle physicists.

The major components of e-infrastructures are communication networks, distributed grids, high performance computing facilities and digital repositories. The e-infrastructure viewpoint is to consider them as a fully integrated system. There are many interdependencies between the components, so their evolutions should be planned in a highly consistent manner.