The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a new cooperative agreement with Internet2, a nonprofit computer networking consortium, to build partnerships with commercial cloud computing providers and support science applications in new and more effective uses of cloud computing capabilities.
The NSF-funded Internet2 project, Exploring Clouds for Acceleration of Science (E-CAS), will investigate the viability of commercial clouds as an option for leading-edge research computing and computational science supporting a range of academic disciplines. Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform have signed on as the initial cloud computing providers in this endeavor.
"The E-CAS project has the potential to not only demonstrate the effectiveness of current commercial cloud computing services in supporting a range of applications that are important to the science and engineering research communities, but also to enable these communities to leverage the innovative technologies and capabilities to significantly accelerate scientific discoveries," said Manish Parashar, director of NSF's Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure.
NSF has pledged $3 million for a two-phased approach to be managed by Internet2 and is expected to produce a deeper understanding of the use of cloud computing in accelerating scientific discoveries.
"Internet2 looks forward to supporting NSF's vision as part of our ongoing commitment to working with the research and education community and cloud computing providers to accelerate time-to-science, and to facilitate discovery and sharing of ideas," said Internet2 President and CEO Howard Pfeffer. "This partnership will enhance a broad range of science and facilitate more effective integration of cloud computing resources and cyberinfrastructure for leading-edge research. Internet2 is delighted that we can participate in this activity on behalf of our members and the broader research and education community."
The cooperation with Internet2 on E-CAS represents one of several recent investments made by NSF in collaboration with cloud computing providers, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud and Microsoft Azure. For example, these services committed up to $15 million in cloud computing resources for projects funded by NSF's Critical Techniques, Technologies, and Methodologies for Advancing Foundations and Applications of Big Data Sciences and Engineering (BIGDATA) and Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs and Spokes (BD Hubs and Spokes) programs over a three-year period that began in 2017.
E-CAS Next Steps
The E-CAS project will invite proposals from researchers across the full range of science and engineering domains who have traditionally relied on high-performance computing resources and are interested in leveraging the novel capabilities of cloud computing platforms for their research activities. Proposals funded through the E-CAS project will be evaluated on two primary criteria:
Acceleration of Science. The goal is to achieve the best time-to-solution for scientific applications and workflows using cloud computing.
Innovation. A key measure of innovation will be the novel use of heterogeneous hardware resources and platforms, such as Central Processing Units, Graphics Processing Units and Field-Programmable Gate Arrays to support and extend scientific applications and workflows.
E-CAS will have two phases. The first phase will support six different scientific and engineering applications and workflows with cloud computing allocations and resources for development and code migration. After identifying two final projects selected from the original six, the second phase will commence for another year with a focus on delivering scientific results.
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