The task to take advantage of grids can be a challenge for scientists with limited computational expertise. For this group of users, there is a need for more user-friendly points of interaction. Portals and Gateways provide an access-point which abstracts away technical details, and allows users to focus on their research; every scientist does not have to be a computer expert.
Grid portals have the advantage that there is no need for the user to install software locally, which significantly simplifies maintenance and sustainability. In fact, the user sometimes does not even know that the underlying resources are grids. For grids to have the largest impact, it is important to make resources available as widely as possible. Scientific gateways and portals have the potential to build more and larger user communities, open for the use of grids in more disciplines, and foster collaborative environments.
Portals can provide means to interact with, for example, grid middlewares and/or Web services, or be devoted to a scientific domain. In this session, we will hear about two general-purpose portal engines and two domain-oriented portals. In common, they have that they hide the sometimes complex technologies, delivers access and visually oriented means to interact with data and computational resources, and have extensible architecture.