NSF PR 01-73 - September 24, 2001
Internet "Middleware" Gets $12 Million Boost from
Three-year awards for R&D into tools for Internet
The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced
three-year awards totaling almost $12 million for
development of "middleware" to help scientists and
researchers use the Internet to effectively share
instruments, laboratories and data, and to collaborate
with their colleagues. Middleware is software that
connects two or more otherwise separate applications
across the Internet.
The NSF Middleware Initiative (NMI) will create and
deploy advanced network services for simplifying access
to diverse Internet resources. Two major teams --
the new GRIDS (Grids Research Integration Deployment
and Support) Center and a group formed by the Internet2
consortium -- will lead the NMI effort. The GRIDS
Center will be a partnership of the University of
Southern California's Information Sciences Institute
(ISI), the National Center for Supercomputing Applications
(NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
the University of Chicago (UC), the University of
California-San Diego and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The the University Corporation for Advanced Internet
Development (Internet2 group will consist of EDUCAUSE
and the Southeastern Universities Research Association
"Much as the NSFnet network in the mid-1980s and early
1990s laid the groundwork for the dramatic success
of the Internet," said Alan Blatecky, NSF middleware
program director, "we expect this new NSF program
to lay foundations for middleware infrastructure and
spur adoption of the advanced services that will define
the networks and distributed systems of tomorrow."
NMI-funded projects will facilitate sharing of unique
scientific resources such as telescopes, supercomputing
systems or linear accelerators, as well as common
resources such as databases, directories or calendars.
For example, a professor of environmental engineering
might want students to get hands-on experience with
environmental monitoring and modeling. NMI technologies
for user-authentication and resource discovery could
let the students access national resources including
up-to-the- minute data and real-time instrumentation.
Similar results would be possible in other fields
of science and engineering.
The GRIDS Ccenter will work with UCAID Internet2 to
design, develop, coordinate, evaluate, deploy and
disseminate these new middleware services to research
labs and universities across the U.S. and the world.
The Internet2 group will also focus on integrating
campus infrastructure and desktops, providing testbed
capabilities and a "Certificate Authority" for user-
authentication in the academic community.
The GRIDS Center will be led by Randy Butler of NCSA,
Ian Foster of UC, and Carl Kesselman of ISI. Foster
and Kesselman will be co-directors of the center,
and Butler will direct operations. The central activity
of GRIDS will be to develop a new set of middleware
building on successes of the Globus project that has
developed tools for Grid computing, and to integrate
these with other emerging middleware components.
"These groups collectively have an outstanding record
of accomplishment in developing and applying advanced
collaborative and networking technologies," said George
Strawn, acting head of the NSF Directorate for Computer
and Information Science and Engineering. "We're delighted
to be able to support them in this important step
toward the creation of a 21st Century environment
for science, engineering and the humanities."