GridPP36: New Directions in GridPP5

This week saw the 36th GridPP Collaboration meeting – a.k.a. #GridPP36 – take place once again at the Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry, Scotland, kindly supported by Dell. The theme – “New directions in GridPP5” – shows just how much has changed in two years since GridPP32. We even took the group photograph (below) in a “new direction”.

The GridPP Collaboration at GridPP36, Pitlochry, Scotland. Credit: Rob Fay 2016.

As well as the usual updates on experiment activity, networking, and security, we heard about how GridPP will be embracing new technologies and new user communities over the next four years of the GridPP5 funding cycle. Indeed, there was a whole session on how GridPP’s New User Engagement Programme has expanded to accommodate many new communities representing fields other than particle physics. Experiments like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and LOFAR are beginning to require the kind of distributed computing infrastructure GridPP has developed over the lifetime of the Large Hadron Collider. We heard about how GridPP has been working with these to share our knowledge and experience in delivering excellent science through large-scale distributed computing.

But perhaps what was most noticeable at this meeting (certainly during the discussion sessions) was who wasn’t there. Oxford sysadmin and TB-SUPPORT superstar Ewan MacMahon left GridPP to move into the world of bioinformatics in March, and was certainly missed. In fact there were very few speakers who didn’t mention him (or make a Ewan-ism), demonstrating just what a tremendous impact he has made on the collaboration with his hard work, enthusiasm, and willingness to help; embodying everything that makes the GridPP Collaboration what it is. That said, we’re almost certain he’ll be back representing one of our new user communities – bioinformatics would make yet another excellent new direction for GridPP!

As ever, huge thanks to Dr L. Campbell for her tremendous work in making the event such a success, the Atholl Palace Hotel for yet again providing such a wonderful venue, and to Dell for kindly sponsoring the conference dinner.

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