Best Practices for Using the Cloud for Computing Research

November 3, 2021 – In July 2021, the newly formed Industry Committee (CRA-I) of the Computing Research Association (CRA) launched a series of 75-minute virtual roundtables to initiate a discussion on the various areas of CRA-I computer science research interest. industry partners. The mission of ARC-I is to bring together industry partners on computer research topics of common interest and to connect these partners with academic and government members of ARC for mutual benefit and better societal results.

In September 2021, CRA-I held its second roundtable focusing on Best Practices for Using the Cloud for IT Research. The purpose of this roundtable was to discuss best practices and the resulting synergistic opportunities in industry, academia and government. See a video of the roundtable here. The session was moderated by two members of the CRA-I Steering Committee: Fatma Ozcan (Google) and CRA-I Co-Chair Vivek Sarkar (Georgia Institute of Technology). The panelists were David Culler (Google), Ed Lazowska (University of Washington), Margaret Martonosi (National Science Foundation), Giovanni Pacifici (IBM Research) and Raghu Ramakrishnan (Microsoft).

The overwhelming majority of panelists agreed that using the commercial cloud for IT research makes you, as Pacifici said, “more productive, gives you access to the latest technology and provides agility.” Lazowska noted that “nothing we can build on our own will have the scalability, sharing, and the rich software and hardware infrastructure that the commercial cloud offers.” Using the commercial cloud for research in academia and government presents a unique opportunity for collaboration and change.

While there is no downside to using the cloud for computational research, there are some key hurdles to overcome. The panel then agreed that the commercial cloud needs to be more accessible so that it is more available to a wide range of users – as Ramakrishnan said, “from IT (CS) 101 to researchers rethinking. telecommunications “. It’s getting more open, but that needs to continue to allow for better portability and consistency than what we have today. This problem is particularly apparent in computer science education. Lazowska noted that “other areas are much more active in using the cloud than IT… [CS] being out of step in the 21st century. Culler agreed that we need to “in some sense increase the technical IQ of our own students throughout and that starts with the faculty actually waking up to the state of the art we have today” . Martonosi commented that “everyone needs agile access to scalable resources and that our students’ education needs to align with what they will actually experience in the outside world… there is a lot more here. that our community makes dynamic use of it. “

This agile access is, in part, supported by the National Science Foundation, CloudBank, a cloud access entity that helps the IT community access and use public clouds for research and education by providing a set managed services designed to simplify public access. clouds. The San Diego Supercomputer Center and the Division of Computer Services at the University of California at San Diego, the eScience Institute at the University of Washington, and the Division of Data Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley have developed and operated now CloudBank. “CloudBank is a middleman that helps researchers budget and access commercial cloud resources. There are no indirect costs on these resources. You can budget for it in your basic CISE proposals, ”explained Martonosi. It was also discussed that campus supercomputing centers will continue to play a vital role through their expertise in the use of computing resources for research.

It is clear that the future of computational research lies in the cloud, but achieving it and sharing its potential with students and the computational research community at large is a challenge. The ARC-I Steering Committee looks forward to building on the momentum of this roundtable and is planning a hybrid workshop to be held March 21-22, 2022 with remote participants and an in-person center in Washington, DC at headquarters. CRA Social (1828 L Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036-4632). If you would like to participate virtually or in person at DC, please save the date and let us know here, and feel free to pass the information on to interested parties. We will contact those who express their interest over the next few months with more details, including an official registration form.

To learn more, visit the CRA blog.

Source: Helen Wright, CRA Blog

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