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VT EGI Community Workshops

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This section has been established in order to capture ideas and suggestions for EGI Community workshops - all inputs should be posted to


A key element of the EGI task in its contribution towards “enabling collaboration and exploring research opportunities” is achieved firstly through the twice yearly Technical and User Forums and secondly, through other meetings and workshops. The User Forum held in April 2011 in Vilnius, Lithuania revealed a growing desire amongst the user communities for such ‘collaboration and exploration’ to be achieved through smaller and more focused meetings which should be much more involving for individual specialist users. Furthermore, feedback drawn from requirements submitted through EGI’s Requirements Tracker (RT) system reveals that there is a call for carefully targeted events that must be tailored to the needs of specific parts of the community, either to ‘inform and educate’ or more frequently, to help 'clarify and specify' what are initially no more than vaguely stated requirements.

The EGI RT system has been operating since September 2010. By September 2011’s User Community Support (UCS) team had acquired numerous user requests for new features and new configurations to be added to the EGI supported infrastructure. The total number of such requests submitted to UCST by Jun 2011 stood at 233. All of the tickets submitted are analysed as a matter of course and distilled into general themes in order to drive them towards successful resolution through appropriate channels. Invariably, there is a great deal of work that still needs to be completed in order to translate these general requirement ‘Themes’ into solutions. In some cases, the solution is one of collective training and education while in others, work must start by producing a clear, tight and unambiguous ‘Statements of Requirement’ that can be effectively passed as guidance to Technology Providers so that they may in turn develop the needed solutions. What is clear is that a most practical way forwards is through the use of targeted Workshops whereby interested parties can be brought together for brainstorming, interactive learning, sharing best practices, building relationships, data gathering and problem solving.

This format of workshops was successfully used for a number of work-streams during the Technical Forum in Lyon in September 2011; the workshops generated clear evidence to support the advancement of our grid infrastructure in a number of areas as tabled beneath.

In November 2011 EGI Director launched the NGI International Liaison Officer initiative as a method to improve the coordination between EGI and its user community. Though a shortage of time precluded any discussion on 'Community Workshops', the slides for that session remain relevant and can be found here (Slides).

Aims and Outcomes

In order to contribute to the creation of ‘Sustainable user services for sustainable user communities’, the UCST will continuously plan and conduct targeted workshops with the following two principal outcomes in mind:

  • Training, Education & Standards. T&E Workshops shall focus on sharing practices and procedures so that EGI as a service provider and user communities (as service users) can work towards increasingly common standards. As a by-product, UCST will aim to publish the standards as EGI reference documentation.
  • Clarification of requirements. UCST shall assemble focus groups to discuss, brainstorm and clarify specific RT ‘Themes’ such that technical details that will eventually be incorporated into ‘Statements of Requirement’ can start to be properly defined. Such SORs will subsequently be submitted to Technology Providers in the normal way via the Technical Coordination Board route.


The programme detailed in this document provides an historical record of past workshops as well as a forward looking plan of scheduled future events.

Workshop Events and Themes

Planning steps

Recognising that all such events represent a cost in terms of resources (be they financial, human or both), every workshop event shall aim to be cost effective by being constrained to be as small and short as practicable given the outcome that needs to be achieved. Once the ‘Theme’ or training purpose of a workshop has been identified, the following key steps shall form the core process for planning the events:

  • Definition of Workshop Goal(s) (the desired Outcomes).
  • Selection of appropriate target group or specific individual attendees.
  • Consider collaboration with another organisation with parallel interests - possibly run dual events 'back to back'
  • Selection of Venue for event – there may be advantages in conducting the event centrally near offices or remotely with an NGI.
  • 'Communicating a plan to the Audience' - the concept of the event needs to be marketed and attendees need to be enrolled. The event, together with a working Agenda, needs to be published (inc Training Marketplace).
  • Documentation of findings and follow up plan – training workshops will result in documented standards and processes; fact finding events will ultimately lead to documented SORs.

Conduct of Workshops

UCST workshop events will normally be limited to a maximum of 30 participants and last no more than 2 working days. Events focused on training can be expected to comprise groups of nearer 30 people and be shorter in duration, while those seeking to gather hard data for generating ‘SORs’ or other documents/guidance are likely to be smaller groups (closer to 12-15 – for larger gatherings, effectiveness will be achieved through the use of ‘breakout sessions’) and may last up to 2 days. Breakout sessions to stimulate critical discussion and hence achieve output are a recognised element of successful workshop events.

  • General details of EGI Workshops should be published using:
    • The EGI events calendar and blog
    • The co-hosting institution's website.
    • the Training Marketplace website (Title of event, description, venue, main presenters, organiser URL etc)
  • Specific information relating to the programme of an event together with supporting training material will be published through INDICO.

Workshops will routinely start with some form of ‘scene setting’ introduction which will normally be briefed by UCST staff. Case studies will be used as much as possible and participants shall be encouraged to deliver 10-15 minute presentations to present their view/position.

Preparation Activities

There are a number of tools available to assist in preparation of workshops and these will be used extensively to ensure attendance, productivity and effectiveness of the events are optimised.

  • RT: Requirements Tracking system gathers user inputs from which UCST analysis can derive ‘Themes’ and some of the broad issues that need to be resolved.
  • User / customer surveys: Zoomerang survey tool will be used to refine the content and agenda that needs to be covered during intended workshops (as well as confirming the broader support for the proposed theme).
    • NGIs and VRCs will be directly canvased for their support/perceived need for issues to be more fully explored.
  • Scheduling: Doodle polls are used extensively as the means for identifying the optimum timing for such events.


Table 1 beneath details past and future Workshop events for the period up to Feb 2012 and readers are invited to provide constructive comments for additions, changes and deletions as applicable by e-mail to .

Table 1: UCST Workshops Phase 1 – Period 1 June to 15 Feb 2012

Date Theme Remarks (supporting evidence etc) Target Audience: Outcome/Desired Outcome
13 May 2011 MAPPER/PRACE/EGI collaboration Initial presentation agreed to form a ‘Task Force’ to drive for a demonstration of MAPPER through 2 applications MAPPER Task Force (MTF) and leadership SOR. Definition of strategic objectives for activity plus clarification of customers and their requirements. Outcome: MTF Wiki as container for MAPPER documents.
Sep 2011 Portal technologies for EGI Communities Explore emerging technologies and requirements for development of portals, portlets and i-frames TF11 event (see Table 2) Successfully compiled table of Portal system features.
Sep 2011 Data management – best practices and requirements Present emerging data management issues and explore avenues for further developments as seen from user perspective. TF11 event (see Table 2); Technology providers (developers) and users. T, E & S. Draft SORs
Sep 2011 Virtual Research Communities Promote available tools/services; explain RT and requirements gathering; seek VRC involvement in providing / adding local tools to EGI ‘service catalogue’. TF11 event (see Table 2)- VRC leadership. T, E & S. Train and Educate – establish best practice
Sep 2011 EGI / NGI Roadshows – to include "Training tools, services and requirements” How to bring in more users and communities? Roadshow type event to promote EGI services and tools, and to seek NGI feedback on the value of Roadshows as a way to expand the customer base. To inc the new Training Marketplace. In particular, to enthuse NGIs to start encouraging their communities to load all potential Training and supporting material. TF11 event (see Table 2). Multi event type workshop to be delivered broadly. Note this can be seen as a ‘Train the Trainer’ function. Idea of a Roadshow was not supported. The concept could not succeed because there could not be a single consistent message for all types of audience.
9&10 Feb 2012 Workshops on e-Science Workflows This event comprises a collaboration between EGI and SHIWA for the conduct of two linked workshops about workflows in e-Science. The workshops will be conducted in Budapest with support from the Hungarian NGI. Goals are to introduce and collect feedback about the SHIWA solutions that enable cross-workflow and inter-workflow exploitation of DCIs and to bring together e-Science stakeholders and further clarify the requirements of ‘Scientific workflow systems’ for EGI. Users and providers of services, workflow technology and grid infrastructure. Generate SORs and Standards
How to set-up and manage successful grid software projects. Develop user-centric, usability-conscious software applications (apps) for the grid environment. Especially relevant within an open-source/open-development process, ie bringing the Google/Apple model to the Grid Dissemination and promotion aspects should be covered App developers, App consumers T, E & S
Train research and education institutions to implement EGI gadgets and other applications to implement a support resource for users (users with an emphasis on bringing new users to DCI at a campus level. Discussed with Stephen Winter at Westminster Uni Jun 2011. Explore generating a focal point (website) that institutions could point their students to which would easily answer all questions about getting started even down to - how do I get started with such-and-such an app.

Such a session would provide EGI with some critical feedback on existing gadgets.

WS is aimed at more senior people within NGIs and institutions responsible for planning the implementation of support solutions. T, E & S
Workload management - brokers, pilot jobs or direct submission RT 918. How many communities use pilot jobs? Should this really be part of middleware or keep this in the community layer? What are the issues with using pilot jobs today? (in the community layer)

- Maybe what communities need is better support from the infrastructure to install and run their pilot job frameworks in the community area. Can this better support be arranged with VO-site OLAs? Or is modification in the middleware needed?

Generate SORs and Standards
APIs to interface community software with EGI middleware services RT 928 - LSGC expects a scientific data-flow system to be part of EGI. But, Because data-flow systems can be very specific to a community (what to optimise the data-flow for?) the request is really about "proper, homogeneous, documented API for middleware services" Create and agree SOR
Operating grid services in fail-over mode Ref RT 792
User-driven, community developed, open-source software applications and tools: best processes and practices Potential workshop.
Building communities: trust, communication and contracts - towards a blueprint for creating and successfully running a VRC Potential workshop.

Note T, E&S = Training, Education & Standards

Workshop Jotting pad/sand box - Potential Event titles & discussion points

Proposed event titles

  • Single sign-on
  • Virtual Organisations (VO)
  • Persistent storage
  • User Support
  • Training and consultancy
  • Web-service interfaces
  • Workflows
  • Global scope
  • Integration with cloud systems and volunteer desk-top systems

Event titles for discussion

  • Science Field: Earth Science
  • Event Title: Data management, modelling, simulation and visualization
  • Technology providers: Grid - gLite, Cloud computing - StratusLab, Data management - EUDAT,...

  • Science Field: Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Event Title: Grid computing and data management
  • Technology providers: Grid - Unicore, Data management - Unicore,...

  • Science Field: Computational Chemistry
  • Event Title: need title
  • Technology providers: need details
  • Science Field: Life Sciences
  • Event Title: need title
  • Technology providers: need details