NSF funds middleware initiative

The National Science Foundation has launched a $12 million initiative to advance middleware—the software that allows scientists to share applications, instruments and data, and collaborate with one another using the Internet.

A group of research centers across the United States will work together on the project under the NSF Middleware Initiative (NMI) announced Sept. 24. NMI will create and deploy advanced network services to make it easier for researchers to access resources available through high-performance networks.

Being able to share scientific tools, such as telescopes or modeling software, and access supercomputing systems and databases are just part of what the program hopes to accomplish, said Carl Kesselman, center director at the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (ISI).

"We believe that middleware and a comprehensive middleware infrastructure will be the key to creating a network infrastructure that can be used by the worldwide research community to share ideas, conduct research and make new discoveries," he said in a release.

Two groups will receive the awards:

n The Grids Research Integration Deployment and Support (GRIDS) Center includes ISI, the University of Chicago, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

n The Internet2 team includes the Southeastern Universities Research Association and Educause, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting intelligent use of information technology.

The GRIDS Center will have two main functions: developing and integrating the NMI architecture, and packaging, testing and supporting software distributed by NMI.

The Internet2 team's duties include developing an NMI architecture that focuses on directories, security and naming, and integrating those services into a variety of applications, including desktop video.

"Researchers advance to middle" [Federal Computer Week, May 7, 2001]

"NSF targets tech security" [Federal Computer Week, Sept. 10, 2001]

"NSF casts earthquake simulation net" [Federal Computer Week, Aug. 28, 2001]

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