Report from the 2015 OSG All-Hands Meeting

Springtime snowfall notwithstanding, over 150 people attended various days between Monday, March 23 and Friday, March 27 of the 2015 Open Science Grid All-Hands meeting, held this year at the Kellogg School of Management’s Allen Center at Northwestern University (NU).

The OSG would like to thank Professor Kristian Hahn and Pamela Villalovoz at Northwestern for organizing it. The high quality and smooth operation of equipment and services at the Allen Center lent themselves to an extremely full and productive conference, which was also aided by longer breaks in the agenda, allowing more discussions to develop outside the formal talks.

Monday and Tuesday

The week of lively discussions and productive brainstorming was opened by Sean Reynolds, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at NU, before the session split into CMS and ATLAS discussions. New for this year was a set of Intensity Frontier (IF) talks and brainstorming session. “I found the interactions to be extremely positive,” said Dr. Michael Kirby, associate scientist in Fermilab’s Scientific Computing Division. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with OSG to keep IF computing aligned with the OSG policy and inform the OSG Area Coordinators about requests from the IF experiments.”

Tuesday saw an eclectic mix of talks, ranging from OSG Campus Infrastructures in the morning to security, bioinformatics and technology in the afternoon. There was also a chance to attend an OSG Connect tutorial led by Dr. Emelie Harstad. Dr. Baudilio Tejerina, a scientific IT consultant at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at NU, arrived at this tutorial to learn about the OSG and left as a new OSG user! “I am a beginner, but I see a lot of potential uses for the OSG in my department,” said Dr. Tejerina. “One of our geophysics projects uses complex mathematics to simulate the propagation of tsunamis across ocean basins. The graphical analysis of the numerical data constitutes a fundamental tool to visualize and to interpret the simulations. I think that the OSG could be a very useful platform to make projects like this possible and efficient.”

 Tilden_Small_March31

Photo by Robert Tilden

Wednesday Plenaries

Wednesday’s plenary sessions, introduced by the OSG leaders and the Area Coordinators and followed by local speakers and science highlights, drew large crowds. Professor Frank Würthwein, OSG executive director, led the talks by reiterating the vision of OSG, asking the audience to imagine a time where “all clusters at universities and national laboratories are shared, and a researcher uses a single interface to use the resources.” He then described some of the technology developments that would help make this possible for distributed high-throughput computing (DHTC). The main theme of 2015, he said, would be that “OSG continues to advance science through DHTC and the power of sharing.”

Professor Hahn commented that the range of sciences represented in the plenary talks was very heartening: from astrophysics to materials to genomics, many strands could demonstrate the different ways they had used the OSG. “The OSG is a powerful research tool across many departments of the university. The invisible connections it threads between users and resource providers across the USA allows the research, and therefore the university, to reach further and achieve more than could have been possible within just its own brick-and-mortar boundaries.”

The group was privileged also to be addressed and welcomed by Mark Ratner, interim dean of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Dean Ratner reminded the audience of the importance of what they are engaged in by invoking the image of Dr. Cloud, where human metrics are constantly monitored as we go about our daily lives and fed into a system which can then spit out prescriptions, precautions or advice. “It was about enabling breakthroughs,” said Professor Hahn, commenting on Dean Ratner’s speech. “Organizations like the OSG do not just allow us to get our work done faster or more efficiently; they enable us to transcend previous paradigms of what is possible.”

Thursday and Friday Council Meeting

At the OSG Council, on Thursday and Friday, the group were fortunate to have continued participation from the Clemson University ACI-REF representatives, Jim Bottum and Barr Von Oehsen. One outcome of the meeting was that a sub-group of the council was asked to explore a closer relationship and partnership with this “virtual organization.” “It is exciting to see the concept of campus engagements becoming ever more important and energetic,” said Ruth Pordes, OSG council chair. “We see the future of cyberinfrastructure in the USA as driven directly by the needs of an increasing number of digital researchers and scholars across the nation’s learning and research institutions.”

OSG AHM 2016

Next year’s meeting will be held at Clemson University, South Carolina, March 14 – 18, 2016.

~ Clementine Jones