The idea of carrying out concurrent design in a ‘Virtual Facility’, with participants in geographically different locations, seems a natural evolution of the Concurrent Design Centre concept. Through ESA’s Grid Interest Group (GIG) the CDF is looking at the potential of the ‘Grid’, the successor to the world-wide web, to harness the huge amounts of computer power needed for such a virtual design centre.
Grid computing is the large-scale integration of computer systems, via high-speed networks, to provide on-demand access to data-crunching capabilities not available to one individual or group of machines.
The idea is that Grid technology could be the basis for the creation of a ‘Virtual Facility’, consisting of integrated, tool-orientated computing and communication systems to support scientific and engineering collaboration, removing barriers of geographical distance and time from research collaborations.
The Grid technology would provide not only the communication power (audio-video conferences over IP), but would integrate computational and data storage resources as well as tools/applications. These resources will be available to scientific communities and also, to companies that would collaborate across the Grid sharing/analysing application output data.