2 min readNew Platform Takes Science to the Clouds

Tucson, AZ — Scientists and engineers in all disciplines can now store, share and analyze data through Jetstream, the first all-science cyber-computing platform, a $6.5 million project funded by the National Science Foundation.

The iPlant Collaborative based at the University of Arizona’s BIO5 Institute will play an important role in development and operation of Jetstream.

“iPlant has more than five years’ experience providing cloud-based analyses,” said Nirav Merchant, co-principal investigator of the iPlant Collaborative, director of Bio Computing at Arizona Research Laboratories and a member of the BIO5 Institute. “We will bring our expertise to run and manage the underlying cloud infrastructure, making it accessible and easy to use for researchers in all science disciplines.”

Cloud computing, in which individuals can use an integrated network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, process and analyze data, has provided a much-needed capability for highly-customized, scalable analysis platforms that make possible large-scale and integrated data processing for science and engineering research today.

Jetstream will be a new, interactive cloud-based system designed to provide a usable interface with the scalability and flexibility to serve an expanded community of researchers benefiting from resources in the NSF’s eXtreme Digital, or XD, program. XD’s mission is to explore new approaches to deliver computational infrastructure resources to a diverse community of scientific researchers and education professionals.

Atmosphere, a platform of the iPlant Collaborative at the UA, will manage the cloud resources and provision projects between the remote servers at Indiana University and at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas, Austin.

Atmosphere is a multicloud orchestration platform that provides an easy-to-use web interface for researchers to manage their cloud-based data sets and analyses, and has driven wide adoption of cloud-based capabilities through the iPlant Collaborative.

“Atmosphere allows users to effectively manage their analyses using cloud resources,” Merchant explained. “With its web-based interface, users can launch new analyses, share data and collaborate using a reproducible and scalable computing environment. This capability is unique to Atmosphere and is directed toward domain users, who typically are not well-versed with cloud platform capabilities.”

By providing a software platform that allows scientists to easily use and manage cloud resources, Atmosphere has greatly increased the adoption of cloud computing in research applications by researchers less accustomed to interacting with a cloud-computing environment, but for whom the computational capacities of cloud environments are essential.

In addition to managing project provisioning and user interface with cloud environments for the nearly 46,000 early adopters expected to use Jetstream, Atmosphere will host the test and development facilities for the new NSF project.

“As one of the largest public science clouds, Jetstream will provide new opportunities to test and scale Atmosphere across large, geographically distributed deployments of open-source clouds,” said Edwin Skidmore, assistant director of infrastructure for the iPlant Collaborative. “We expect to discover more efficient ways to do science within the cloud, given the diversity of the scientific and engineering community that will rely on Jetstream for their computational needs.”

The iPlant Collaborative is an NSF-funded project based at BIO5 that includes partners at TACC, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Originally funded as a cyber-infrastructure project for plant sciences research, the collaborative has expanded its capacities to provide computing platforms for all life sciences research.

Since January 2011, iPlant Atmosphere has managed production cloud services for iPlant.

“We have seen overwhelming demand for our cloud platform from researchers and educators alike,” Merchant said. “With Jetstream, we now have an avenue for our users needing more capacity. Jetstream provides the opportunity to take best practices from our experience customizing cloud infrastructure for life sciences to a broader national community.”

Article adapted from a University of Arizona news release.

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