Cloud in Science

Cloud in Science

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4683-4.ch009
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Abstract

Cloud computing technologies and service models are attractive to scientific computing users due to the ability to get on-demand access to resources as well as the ability to control the software environment. Scientific computing researchers and resource providers servicing these users are considering the impact of new models and technologies. SaaS solutions like Globus Online and IaaS solutions such as Nimbus Infrastructure and OpenNebula accelerate the discovery of science by helping scientists to conduct advanced and large-scale science. This chapter describes how cloud is helping researchers to accelerate scientific discovery by transforming manual and difficult tasks into the cloud.
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1. Introduction

Computation and data are considered the third and the fourth mode of science, respectively, where the previous modes or paradigms were experimentation, observation and theory. With the introduction of high performance supercomputers, the methods of scientific research could include mathematical models and simulation of phenomenon that are too expensive or beyond our experiment’s reach. With the advent of cloud computing, a fifth mode of science is on the horizon.

In 1998 and later in 2001, Foster, Kesselman and Tuecke (Foster, Kesselman,& Tuecke, 2001) introduced Grid Computing as “coordinated resource sharing and problem solving in dynamic, multi-institutional virtual organization.” Grids have been the center of attention from scientific and High Performance Computing communities (HPC) (Grandinetti, 2008) and (Gentzsch, Grandinetti, & Joubert, 2010), especially for the distributed and large scale scientific applications, and also in collaborative style of work.

Grid is the first technology that is developed to address scientific needs. A huge number of projects within countries (e.g. National Grid Projects) such as TeraGrid (2012) and Italian Grid Infrastructure (2012), within continents and industries in various areas were defined around Grid during these years. These projects all are initiated to address scientific needs. For instance, in Europe, the European Grid Initiative (EGI) (European Grid Initiative, 2012) is the latest project that represents a new effort to establish a sustainable Grid infrastructure in Europe after EGEE-III project. National Grid Initiatives (NGI) (Italian Grid Infrastructure, 2012) within EGI operate the Grid infrastructures in each country. In principle, NGI is the main foundations of EGI.

On the other hand, cloud computing is gaining traction in the commercial world, with companies like Amazon, Google, and Yahoo! offering pay-to-play cycles to help organizations meet cyclical demands for extra computing power. Cloud computing technologies and service models are attractive to scientific computing users due to the ability to get on-demand access to resources and to replace or supplement existing systems, as well as the ability to control the software environment. Scientific computing users and resource providers servicing these users are considering the impact of these new models and technologies.

Cloud service delivery models play different roles in scientific computing. For instance, the IaaS model enables users to control their own software stack that is useful to scientists that might have complex software stacks.

Instead, SaaS provides access to an end user for an application or software that has a specific function. Examples in the commercial space include services like Salesforce.com and Gmail. This model can be attractive since it allows the user to transfer the responsibility of installing, configuring, and maintaining an application and shields the end-user from the complexity of the underlying software. On the other hand, science portals can also be viewed as providing a Software as a Service, since they typically allow remote users to perform analysis or browse data sets through a Web interface.

In this chapter, we review current practices of cloud computing in various scientific fields. We see what services and capabilities cloud introduces for accelerating the discovery of science.

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