HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPUTING Cloud technology drives scientific research

Cloud research tools provide a platform for new avenues of scientific research by providing fast access to bare metal resources, writes Robert Roe

Each presenter highlighted their

Cloud computing offers a more flexible alternative than traditional HPC installations, particularly for scientists and researchers who have varied workloads or that require computing resources to scale with their workloads. Cloud computing can be used to supplement existing cloud resources or enable research for organisations that do not have their own HPC or research computing systems. In a recent webcast on Scientific Computing World cloud provider Oracle presented a discussion featuring prominent researchers using their platform alongside an Oracle representative Taylor Newill, senior manager, HPC product management at Oracle who highlighted the Oracle cloud infrastructure and the benefits of delivering bare metal compute resources to researchers via the cloud. The webcast looked at the research which drives scientific, technological and social innovation. Focusing on the notion that all too often research can be constrained by the limitations of only using traditionally available computing technologies. Existing technologies may not be the most advanced, they may have capacity thresholds and typically will have a queuing system in place. These conditions impede progress and impact research outcomes. Cloud technologies, by contrast, open up new possibilities, enabling researchers to access powerful resources and alternative technologies, exactly as and when they are required. The webcast featured presentations

from professor Imre Berger, director of the Max Planck Centre for Minimal Biology at the University of Bristol; Dr Dan Ruderman, director of analytics and machine learning at the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of the University of South Carolina (USC), USA; and Eric Grancher, head of database services group, CERN IT department at CERN, Switzerland.

16 Scientific Computing World Spring 2020

own research objectives from trying to understand the best cancer treatment for a particular patient to creating a synthetic self-assembling ADDomer platform for efficient vaccination or delivering data analytics for massive computing installations at CERN. Each requires massive computing power to deliver scientific progress for their research specialties. Without access to the cloud these

researchers and the organisations they represent would not be able to carry out this research without installing their own cluster or getting access to other organisations HPC resources. The cloud allows them to pursue this

research quickly and effectively without relying on in-house resources. During his presentation Newill shared his long history of using and building cloud systems for research purposes. This started with the use of local cloud resources at university and then continued as he moved into the commercial arena. One thing that Newell stressed was that during this time he and his colleagues were always looking for more compute, more capacity and more storage. Very quickly, that led to launching these types of simulations on the cloud. ‘A few years ago I had the opportunity

to transition from the consumption side to the product side where we were building the cloud capacity for this type of research,’ added Newill.

Why are researchers using the cloud? Oracle has historically been a database company which Newill notes ‘which always needed the best hardware to sit underneath the database software.’ In 2016 the company extended that service to the public cloud. ‘Today there are researchers running many different workloads on the public cloud. We wanted to give other people access to this hardware,’ said Newill. When this service launched in 2016

there was coverage of just a single region and a few core services across compute, storage, database and networking. Since then, Oracle Cloud has expanded to more

“All of this is being done on bare metal compute behind the scenes”

than 50 services available in 21 cloud regions worldwide with a plan to reach 36 total regions by the end of 2020. In 2019 alone, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure launched more than 200 new services, features, and enhancements. Oracle Cloud is a Generation 2

enterprise cloud that delivers powerful compute and networking performance and includes a comprehensive portfolio of infrastructure and platform cloud services.

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