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January 22, 2014

TACC Releases Agave API and Gateway DNA

AUSTIN, Tex., Jan. 22 – The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin has released the Agave API, a cloud-based science-as-a-service platform for gateway development, and Gateway DNA, a collection of open source components enabling the rapid development of science gateways.

“Historically, science gateways have been built by small teams of extremely passionate and talented individuals,” said Rion Dooley, lead architect of the Agave API and manager of TACC’s Web and Cloud Services group. “Each gateway would recreate infrastructure from the ground up with very little code sharing between them. While the results were impressive, the cost was enormous. As a result, innovation slowed to a crawl year over year as the majority of time on new projects was spent reinventing the wheel.”

What began as a domain-specific pilot project for iPlant, an initiative funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Plant Cyberinfrastructure Program (DBI-0735191), that fosters biologists to harness rapidly expanding computational techniques has grown to become a core piece of the iPlant infrastructure. Since its initial release in November 2011, the Agave API has been used by more than 1,000 unique projects worldwide. With this release, the platform will reach a broader community through the introduction of additional services and a new, cloud-based approach to scalability.

Agave seeks to spur innovation from day one in the next generation of science gateways by providing a synergetic set of services that developers can use to provide reliable, core science capabilities in their applications.

“Think of it like Salesforce for Science,” Dooley said. “Agave gives you an app store full of scientific codes and the ability to run them on shared HPC systems, Condor pools, and even in the cloud. It gives you ‘access-anywhere’ data management, fire-and-forget data movement, federated identity management, metadata support, real time monitoring, notifications, and ‘share anything’ control across your virtual organization. Agave provides all this through a friendly, well-documented, REST API that adheres to the same industry-adopted standards and technologies embraced by organizations like ESPN, Oracle, Netflix, the White House, and thousands of other companies around the world.”

The Open Science Grid (OSG) is a community working closely with TACC to provide computational cycles to the iPlant Collaborative. With Agave recently demonstrating the ability to integrate with high-throughput computing systems, users can now run code on OSG, as well as on high-performance computing systems such as those provided by the NSF Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), and on public and private clouds such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, HP Cloud, and OpenStack.

Gabriele Garzoglio, head of the Grid and Cloud Services department at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and part of the OSG Project Management Team, said: “Now that the Agave API integrates with OSG, we look forward to running iPlant applications on opportunistic resources. We’re thrilled that the synergy between TACC and OSG will enable us to serve the high-throughput computing needs of this important NSF community.”

Gateway DNA

Despite Agave’s ongoing success, there still may be a barrier to entry, which is why Matthew Hanlon, manager of TACC’s Web and Mobile Applications group, is excited to see the introduction of Gateway DNA. “If you aren’t able to write the code, or more likely, you just don’t want to, an API isn’t going to help you on its own — that’s why we developed Gateway DNA,” he said.

Gateway DNA is a collection of open source software and pre-built tools that users can mix and match to customize the gateway they need. The current offerings include:

  • Javascript widgets that can be added to any HTML page.
  • Javascript plug-ins based on Backbone.js to add a specific area of functionality to an application such as file management, authentication, job submission, messaging, etc.
  • Client software development kits (SDK) in multiple languages.
  • A full Command Line Interface (CLI) for users writing shell scripts.
  • A boilerplate science gateway written entirely in HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

“There’s a little something for everyone,” Hanlon said. “The researcher who wants an easy way to run his experiments can add a job submission widget to a page with the same amount of effort it takes to add a Facebook ‘Like’ button; the grad student who gets tasked with building a gateway for her advisor’s group can copy the boilerplate gateway to the group’s web server and have a fully functional gateway within minutes; developers maintaining established gateways and teams building enterprise portals can mix and match widgets with custom code written against one of the client SDK’s to achieve their desired functionality.”

Gateway DNA relies on Agave to do all the heavy lifting, so there is no software to install and no back end infrastructure to manage. “All you need is a web server — a department web server, a simple hosting plan on Rackspace, an Amazon S3 bucket, or even your public Dropbox folder,” Hanlon said.

To see how you can benefit from Agave 2.0 and Gateway DNA, visit the Developer’s site: http://agaveapi.co

For individuals or groups interested in setting up their own instance of the API, contact Rion Dooley,dooley@tacc.utexas.edu512.232.5043.

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Source: TACC