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British scientists finish Grid foundation

British scientists announce the completion of one of the building blocks for large-scale data sharing over the Grid--a proposed network seen as the successor to the Internet.

British scientists on Monday announced the completion of one of the building blocks for large-scale data sharing over the Grid--a proposed network of computers seen as the 21st century successor to the Internet.

The project was carried out by scientists from the U.K.'s E-Science Centres and was co-funded by IBM and Oracle. The companies, rival powers in the database market, contributed both funding and the efforts of their own researchers.

The specifications announced Monday pave the way for researchers to collaborate using quantities of data that are massive and growing exponentially each year, according to scientists.

The Grid is a nebulous project being carried out by companies and scientists around the world, aimed at addressing the shortcomings of today's Internet. Ultimately, Grid technologies will allow scientists to share not only large amounts of data, but also computing power itself. Private-sector companies are interested in the technology because it is expected to filter down ultimately to business and end-user applications, just as today's Internet technologies have done.

On Monday scientists unveiled the building blocks of the Data Access and Integration (DAI) program, which builds on the Open Grid Services Architecture. The DAI is a set of specifications that pave the way for prototype Grid systems.

The specifications deal with the dilemma of how scientists should share vast databases of research results.

"When the data collected in a single year is now equivalent to the sum total of data collected beforehand, the scale of the challenge to share and harvest all that data becomes clear," professor Tony Hey, director of the E-Science Core Programme, said in a statement. "The pioneering work of the U.K. team paves the way for this to happen and we expect to see a series of prototypes based on this research released in the coming weeks and months."

The results were announced at the fifth Global Grid Forum, taking place this week in Edinburgh, hosted by the U.K.'s National E-Science Centre.

ZDNet U.K.'s Matthew Broersma reported from London.