The 2011 e-Science All Hands Meeting (AHM) marked the tenth annual gathering of technologists and scientists first brought together by the UK e-Science Programme—the £250 million research venture funded by the UK Research Councils. In the decade since the founding of this programme in 2001, e-science research has evolved from fundamental research focused on computational grids into work involving research from a wide variety of domains, such as bioinformatics, computing, astronomy, physics and medicine. The AHM community is now multinational, interdisciplinary and dynamic, and has recently moved towards addressing the issues and challenges raised by the increasing emergence of cloud computing in daily life. This continuing popularity and success has been highlighted by AHM 2011, hosted at the University of York by the EPSRC White Rose Grid e-Science Centre and attended by over 200 delegates. This Theme Issue provides a snapshot of the community's vibrant diversity, featuring the best papers presented at the conference, peer-reviewed for this issue, written by researchers from many different countries and backgrounds.
The first paper in this issue, ‘The application of cloud computing to scientific workflows: a study of cost and performance’ by Berriman et al. , discusses a key factor in the use of cloud computing—is it economically beneficial for scientists to use a third-party cloud provider? Following this, Turilli et al. , writing in ‘Flexible services for the support of research’, focus on the adoption of the cloud by higher education institutions and address both flexible on-demand access to storage resources and scalability across a heterogeneous set of cloud infrastructures.
Turner et al.  write of their experiences in developing secure virtual research environments to integrate multidisciplinary research in ‘Secure data sharing across portals: experiences from OneVRE’. Next, Tablan et al.  present ‘GATECloud.net: a platform for large-scale, open-source text processing on the cloud’, a paper discussing the authors' cloud-based platform's ability to perform large-scale data-intensive natural language processing experiments by harnessing the computing power of the Amazon Cloud. Additionally, the paper includes a cost–benefit analysis and usage evaluation.
Moving away from the cloud, Yang et al.  discuss philosophical issues concerning data quality, identify actual user needs on data quality, review current standards and specifications, and propose an integrated model for data quality in the field of Earth observation in ‘An integrated view of data quality in Earth observation’. Service orientation is another interest of the AHM community, and Weeks et al.  present a developmental overview of the CARMEN virtual laboratory platform for integrating scientific code through a service-oriented infrastructure in ‘The CARMEN software as a service infrastructure’.
In ‘Enhancing research publications using Rich Interactive Narratives’, Takeda et al.  describe a mechanism that provides an interactive framework for research publications in the fields of archaeology and chemistry. Following this, Colling et al.  discuss the highly important work of the UK's gridPP project in providing the grid infrastructure needed by experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in the paper ‘Processing LHC data in the UK’.
Returning to the cloud, the work undertaken within the RAPPORT project to investigate the running of a group of multi-domain scientific applications on cloud resources is presented by Cohen et al.  in ‘RAPPORT: running scientific high-performance computing applications on the cloud’. Djemame et al.  then present their approach to risk management as applied to cloud computing, with a particular emphasis on legal issues, in the paper ‘Legal issues in clouds: towards a risk inventory’.
In ‘Developing cloud applications using e-Science Central’, Hiden et al.  present an overview of the e-Science Central (e-SC) cloud processing system and its application to a number of e-science projects. Finally, Suresh et al.  discuss how cloud computing has the potential for enabling a new technique for using queuing theory to meet specified response-time targets against fluctuating event arrival rates in their paper ‘Scalable and responsive event processing in the cloud’.
As can be seen from the above descriptions, the variety, scope and standard of submissions to AHM 2011 was very high; in order to help focus the conference, we are indebted to the Conference Programme Committee, featuring 36 international experts and leaders in their respective fields. Owing to space constraints, many high-quality pieces of research presented at the conference cannot be published in this Theme Issue, but we are confident that the whole body of work presented at the conference will help to continue to drive e-science and digital research both in the UK and abroad.
The AHM was funded by the UK Research Councils, with EPSRC as its managing agent and contributions from JISC. It was in part sponsored by Cybula, EPSRC, Microsoft Research, HEFCE, Esteem Systems, the ICT Knowledge Transfer Network, the Engineering Task Force and Eduserv. Finally, we thank the staff at the University of York and the University of Leeds for all their help over the past year, and give especial thanks to Prof. Malcolm Atkinson and Prof. Paul Watson, whose guidance and support have been impossible to overstate.
One contribution of 13 to a Theme Issue ‘e-Science–towards the cloud: infrastructures, applications and research’.
- © 2012 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.