Steve Tuecke, the grid computing pioneer behind the open-source Globus software, passed away Nov. 2 after a long battle with brain cancer. He was 52 years old.
Tuecke was CEO and project lead of Globus at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, linking nonprofit research communities through a cloud-based platform.
From 2004 to 2008, Tuecke served as CEO and then chief technology officer at Univa, the company he co-founded with fellow grid creators Carl Kesselman and Ian Foster. From 1990 to 2004, Tuecke was a software architect at Argonne National Laboratory, where he launched the Globus Project with his partners in 1995.
“It is fruitless to get into food fights about the definition of grid,” Tuecke said at the time of Univa’s founding. “We’ll just talk about Globus, our strengths and what we can provide and avoid the food fights were we can.”
In 2002, MIT Technology Review singled out Tuecke as one of its top Innovators Under 35, noting how Tuecke created the code “within weeks” to link supercomputers at university and government labs into a single shared resource for a supercomputing convention demonstration. That software born in the Distributed Systems Lab grew into the Globus Toolkit middleware.
“What the Web did for document sharing, the grid is doing for more general resource sharing,” Tuecke said.
Along with Foster and Kesselman, Tuecke was named one of InfoWorld magazine’s Top 10 Technology Innovators of 2003.
“Our thoughts are especially with his family at this moment. We too, are heartbroken,” Foster wrote in an online tribute. “Steve chose to devote his career to providing better tools for scientists. This overriding concern shaped everything that he did during his 30 years at Argonne National Laboratory, Univa Corporation, and the University of Chicago. It drove him to produce marvelous software systems, notably the Globus Toolkit, and, from 2010 onwards, the Globus service, that have had an outsized influence on research practice.”
Argonne’s Distributed Systems Lab, the international Globus Alliance, the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago, and the Globus team were “shaped by Steve’s vision, his often iconoclastic approach, and his talent for recruiting exceptional people,” Foster added.
“Steve’s genius lay in his unique abilities to understand problems, envision solutions, architect systems, and build teams. But above all, Steve was a splendid friend and colleague. Because he both understood and cared so much, time spent working with him was always a delight: replete with technical brilliance and laughter, warmth and humbling insights,” he continued. “We honor Steve in part by ensuring that his work, of which he was so very proud, continues. Steve always saw farther than any of us, and thus he worked hard to ensure that Globus would survive the departure of any team member. Globus cannot be the same without Steve, but thanks to Steve’s many efforts, we are confident that we can continue to do justice to his vision.”
“Steve transformed the way we think about what we now call cyberinfrastructure, and he transformed the way we think about operating and sustaining it,” wrote Marlon Pierce, director of the Science Gateways Research Center at Indiana University, on the remembrance page set up by Globus. “I always found him generous with his time and insights for our own projects.”
“He was exceptional in everything he was doing,” wrote Jarek Nabrzyski, director of the Center for Research Computing at the University of Notre Dame and co-founder at SimbaChain.com. “He was always so good to other people, and this is how I will remember him.”