Aristotle federated cloud

Wisdom of the clouds: Aristotle Cloud Federation

Modeling Aristotle’s idea that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” the Aristotle Cloud Federation is a new effort to create a federated cloud system to support scientists and engineers who need flexible workflows and analysis tools for large-scale datasets.

Led by Cornell University, funded by the National Science Foundation and supported by Amazon Web Services, the aim of the federated cloud is to speed the time it takes for researchers to obtain their scientific results, known as "the time to science." The resources available through the federated cloud mean researchers will not have to wait for local resources to become available to get their science started.

The initial users of the cloud will include seven teams of researchers studying earth and atmospheric sciences, finance, chemistry, astronomy, civil engineering, genomics and food science – areas that are expected to demonstrate the value of sharing resources and data across institutional boundaries while  minimizing the time to science.

The project will also use a new allocations and accounting model that lets administrators track cloud resource consumption  across the federated sites and use this data as an exchange mechanism among the partner sites. The data are expected to show the potential benefits of sharing institutional resources, such as deploying local infrastructure that is right-sized for steady-state usage rather than irregular peak loads, Cornell said.

Federation components, documentation and best practices developed through the grant will be available to the national community to help create customized virtual machine instances, leverage resources at federated sites, deploy new cloud federations and access, move and share large-scale data.

“This award continues NSF’s multiyear strategy to stimulate exploration of scalable and sustainable data infrastructure models that facilitate collaborative research across disciplines and institutions,” said Amy Walton, with NSF’s Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Division. “By experimenting with cloud usage metrics, collaborating with a commercial cloud vendor and exploring pricing/trading allocation mechanisms, the project will provide valuable information about how the innovations work in a range of situations and how this ‘market approach’ integrates within the larger research ecosystem.”

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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