Since 1986 - Covering the Fastest Computers in the World and the People Who Run Them

Language Flags
October 28, 2013

The Coming Age of Browser-based Research

Tiffany Trader
digital fingerprint

Will Web-based solutions comprise the future of academia? The benefits of a unified, sharable, scalable dataset make for a compelling case. A recent article from Mark Hahnel, the founder of Figshare, notes that the cloud “is becoming more and more attractive as a place where all products of academia should live.”

Writes Hahnel:

The cloud, with its fast load times, scalability, automated application deployment, multiple back-ups and constantly updated hardware, means that institutions need not create their own server centres with associated running costs and rapid dating of technology. We are moving beyond the merely ‘making academic data openly available’ phase, to one where we can derive new insight from larger data sources. At this stage, the ability of any academic developer to access the processing power of thousands of servers at the click of a button also demonstrates the inherent power of scale that commercial cloud services can provide.

The trend is not limited to academia, either. Analyst house IDC just came out with a report that showed the cloud use for firms operating high performance computer (HPC) systems has nearly doubled in two years, rising from 13.8 percent in 2011 up to 23.5 percent in 2013.

With scientific data at governments and academic institutions growing by leaps and bounds, the problem becomes how to store, curate and disseminate all this output. The cloud acts as a central hub with many spokes to enable an efficient and effective workflow. There is huge potential for the cloud to become this central repository, however remarks Hahnel, there is still a need for technology to make this a complete solution. The main restriction isn’t the storage space, but bandwidth limitations. The so-called consumer Internet is far too slow for “research cloud” status. Most HPC hubs, however, enjoy far faster connections and even their own high-speed backbone, such as Internet2.

When it comes to cloud providers’ positioning with the science space, Hahnel points out that Microsoft Research has actively recruited research groups onto its Azure platform, while AWS hosts publicly available datasets, including genomics data, at no charge. The providers hope that by establishing strong relationships with select groups, they will become paying customers at some point.

Going forward, Hahnel would like to see “specific web-based apps being developed and applied over these large, open data sets, or even multiple data sets being pulled in via APIs from different persistent locations.” This approach would relieve the community of the inefficiency of having numerous redundant copies stored in siloed institutions around the world.

“The potential that linked open data has to revolutionise the efficiency of drug discovery and academic progress in general, cannot be underestimated,” Hahnel remarks. “The real remaining question is whose responsibility is it to build these browser tools and apps?”

Tags:

SC14 Virtual Booth Tours

AMD SC14 video AMD Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Cray SC14 video Cray Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Datasite SC14 video DataSite and RedLine @ SC14
Click to Play Video
HP SC14 video HP Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
IBM DCS3860 and Elastic Storage @ SC14 video IBM DCS3860 and Elastic Storage @ SC14
Click to Play Video
IBM Flash Storage
@ SC14 video IBM Flash Storage @ SC14  
Click to Play Video
IBM Platform @ SC14 video IBM Platform @ SC14
Click to Play Video
IBM Power Big Data SC14 video IBM Power Big Data @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Intel SC14 video Intel Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Lenovo SC14 video Lenovo Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Mellanox SC14 video Mellanox Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Panasas SC14 video Panasas Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Quanta SC14 video Quanta Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Seagate SC14 video Seagate Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video
Supermicro SC14 video Supermicro Virtual Booth Tour @ SC14
Click to Play Video