The EDG is a project financed by the European Union. It is piloted by CERN, together with five other major partners and 15 associate partners. It brings together the following major European research agencies: European Space Agency (ESA), the French national centre for scientific research (CNRS), Italy's national nuclear physics institute (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare or INFN), the Dutch institute for nuclear and high energy physics (Nationaal Instituut voor Kernfysica en Hoge-Energie Fysica or NIKHEF), and the UK's Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC).

One of the main aims of the project, which was launched two years ago, is to go beyond the research and development phase and demonstrate a "production quality" computing Grid. Production quality means not just a proof of principle, but the deployment of a stable resource that European scientists can plug into and use on a regular basis. It builds both on software previously developed in the EDG project and on established "open source" solutions. Starting from elements of a toolkit for Grid software development known as Globus 2.2, the new release has greatly improved support for large file transfers, offering better tracking of applications as they run on the Grid and a more stable information system. Several key features for production have been added, such as simplified access to mass storage systems, an easier software installation mechanism and user-friendly job submission facilities.

The software is currently being installed on hundreds of computers that make up the EDG production testbed, one of the largest and most sophisticated Grid infrastructures being developed in the world. Initially limited to five European countries, the testbed has recently been enlarged to approximately 20 sites across Europe, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Nordic countries. Interoperability with Grid infrastructure being developed in the US has also been demonstrated, and new sites in Asia, Russia and Canada will soon be added to the testbed.

Connections of the different European nodes are made possible by the GEANT project, a world-leading data communications network, co-financed by the EU, which connects more than...

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