LANL Sends Environmental Management to the Cloud

By Nicole Hemsoth

July 19, 2011

Purveyor of cloud-based environmental management software, Locus Technologies, recently announced that it had been selected to manage environmental information and data for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

The company claimed the contract to manage the lab’s data in their cloud was worth up to $2 million. Their Locus EIM software will help LANL organize and manage all future environmental compliance and monitoring activities using a SaaS model. Locus says this will better position LANL to address legacy site contamination, both chemical and radioactive, across a number of locations and streamline views into the bigger picture of environmental management at the facility.

The cloud-based software will fulfill a number of functions, including organization of a number of media types, comparison of historical and new contamination levels, planning, sampling and processing environmental data and more generally handling all coordination, integration and community of that data.

Locus says they’ve designed their software  “specifically to meet challenging water-quality management issues, covering both analytical chemistry and the management of radionuclides data in a complex hydro-geological setting.” They say their EIM software will also provide a web-based GIS system for Los Alamos data that will be available to the general public, bringing ease of use and complete transparency to complex data sets. “

We recently interviewed Locus Technologies’ president and CEO, Neno Duplan about the contract and got to the heart of what is involved with these types of software solutions in cloud environments.

HPCc: Can you describe your cloud and what made this an attractive option for LANL—after all, there are a number of other possibilities. Is this an on-demand cloud or public resource like Amazon’s or SaaS or some combination of all? Please be very specific.

Duplan: Locus offers its on-demand services through its own Cloud platform that has been serving customers in this industry since 1999. Locus Cloud is true Software as a Service (SaaS) and that requires some explanation.  We have noticed over the last year or so lots of confusion about this term and it is important to define it.  The myriad terms used by software and service companies to describe the delivery of on-premise applications is confusing—and that confusion is by design. As more and more companies move to SaaS solutions and cloud computing, legacy software vendors will continue to confuse the conversation.

Cloud, software-as-a-service (SaaS), on-demand, application service provider (ASP), business process outsourcing (BPO), outsourced—what do all these words mean? Are they really all the same? Many legacy on-premise application providers would like you to believe so, but there are vast differences. The distinction between SaaS and earlier applications delivered over the Internet, or applications that environmental consultants would deliver over Internet today, is that SaaS solutions were developed specifically to leverage web technologies such as the browser, thereby making them web-native.

The data design and architecture of SaaS applications are specifically built with a single instance of software shared among all customers accessing it and ‘multi-tenant’ backend, thus enabling multiple customers or users to access a shared data model. Locus EIM is one such application.  Systems developed as client servers also could be delivered via web, but they don’t qualify as SaaS applications as they were not natively developed for the web. Those are kind of drinking of “nonalcoholic wine”. Now with definition out of the way, let’s focus on Locus Cloud apps.

Locus Cloud has the following characteristics:

•    Customer implementations off premise and in shared datacenters
•    Pay-as-you-go pricing model
•    All customers on the same software code line
•    Customer sharing of data center resources
•    Application delivery is one-to-many model (single instance, multi-tenant architecture) [as opposed to  a one-to-one model, including architecture, pricing, partnering, and management characteristics]
•    Centralized and rolling feature updating, which obviates the need for end-users to download patches and upgrades?
•    Frequent integration into a larger network of communicating software—either as part of a mashup or a plugin to a platform as a service
•    Updates included with the service

By having every customer on the same line of code and the same version of software, Locus’ SaaS provides real business value: lower cost, better service, and greater customer intimacy.

HPCc: Provide us with the hardware specs for this particular cloud service—we are a bit confused; do you have a cluster upon which you host customer data/applications? Again, be as specific and detailed as possible.

Duplan: Locus Cloud is delivered through a redundant professionally managed data centers in clustered environment. Both application(s) and data are hosted on Locus cloud. Our server farms are highly scalable and we can expand to meet any customer demand. We use standard server technology and there is nothing proprietary about hardware. It is commodity hardware.

EIM software is quite sophisticated—can you go a bit beyond the press release and tell us first what this will entail data-wise/what the software will accomplish and also, what the computational requirements are for something at the scale LANL requires.

Yes, EIM is a sophisticated application dealing with complex data sets and complex workflow processes. In addition to expected functionality to deal with complex domain of analytical chemistry and radionuclides management EIM also provides:

•    Meshups with Google Maps for GIS-based data mapping
•    Ability to quickly incorporate more feature requests from users, since there is frequently no marginal cost for requesting new features
•    Faster new feature releases, since the entire community of users benefits (the wisdom of the crowd syndrome along the rolling upgrade program)
•    Embodiment of recognized best practices, since the user community drives Locus to support best practice
•    Automation of data collection via a single file EDD (Electronic Data Deliverable) format
•    Proven record of scalability to millions analytical records managed from a single code instance in real time
•    Embedded Long Term Monitoring Optimization Module
•    Full and embedded data validation module
•    Fully integrated modules offered through Single Sign On with no third party software add-ons.

HPCc: LANL has its own clusters; why did they decide to outsource this type of computing?

Duplan: LANL has its own clusters of servers on premises. But that does not make LANL experts in environmental database development. LANL wanted off-the shelf solution delivered in the cloud to accelerate implementation and bring all their data into the single system. Locus EIM cloud allowed them to do exactly that. Another reason is cost. There is little upfront cost to deploy solution in the cloud as opposed to deploying custom applications on premises.  The third reason is subject matter knowledge. Locus has this in spades and we have the only module in the market that deals with radionuclides (See more in: Japan quake data should be stored in the cloud here or here.)

Locus’ software enabled LANL to organize and validate all key environmental information in a single system, which includes radionculides data, analytical data for water, air and soil, weather data, sustainability, compliance and environmental content. Since Locus software is delivered via Cloud there was no hardware to procure, no large, up-front license fee, and no complex set-ups.

HPCc: Let’s move outside of LANL for a moment—what are some of the most sophisticated use cases are there for your cloud computing service in terms of data size/movement/computational requirements.

Duplan: All Locus deployments are large and complex as our software is designed to deal with huge data sets in the real time. Our applications offered through the cloud are very different from the ones that we see in consumer world such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and alike. Common for consumer web and some business applications are very large number of users, high traffic, retrieving relatively simple and small data sets to perform a simple action on them such as buy or befriend or “like”. In Locus’ case, our user base is much smaller, but much more sophisticated and demanding. It is not atypical that average EIM or ePortal user performs queries that produce millions of records that need to quickly be interpreted with assistance of intelligent databases, charted, contoured, mapped and reported while making sure that myriad of requirements from many regulatory frameworks are met  in the process.

Most of Locus applications dwarf consumer web requirements in terms of complexity and size of databases. For that and other reasons companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Honeywell or Exelon all selected Locus’ Cloud to deal with their environmental, energy and sustainability data and information. And that is the reason that if you type in Google a common term “environmental data management”, the link to Locus’ website will be among the top few of the first page of the (unpaid) search results. Significant amount of intelligence and Expert System technology is built in the Locus apps.
 
HPCc: Do you think most users are deploying your service to replace on-site hardware or is this more of a “bursty” needs-driven market to supplement existing HPC?

Duplan: It is more “bursty” needs-driven, but not to replace existing HPC, but to replace non-existent or spreadsheet driven processes that resulted in information overflow that is impossible to manage without paying big bucks to consultants who created the problems in the first place.

Environmental and energy data is collected from a variety of sources: from consultants, contractors, labs, suppliers, customer’s own field employees, or as is more increasingly true, by remote wireless sensors. It is stored in remote locations, such as the supplier’s spreadsheets or other files on the desktop, laptop, or network server of suppliers. The customer usually has no access to, or ownership of, such data. Such large, dispersed volumes of information are difficult to track and very costly to audit without relational databases, and content or document management solutions software. If the customer does adopt environmental information management systems, the systems typically fall into one of two categories:

•    Stand-alone systems that project-level consultants and staff engineers love, but that do not enable managers to perform corporate governance, data-mining, or forecasting tasks, or share information across a large organization or the web.

•    High-end, all-encompassing extensions of ERP systems, such as SAP, that can scale to support the needs of hundreds or thousands of users, but environmental managers refuse to use because they are complex and require costly additional programming to manage environmental or energy data. Such enterprise systems are often characterized as being “a mile wide and inch deep” because they typically lack domain depth, are not offered over the web, are expensive and difficult to install and integrate, cannot be used by suppliers, and are not particularly user-friendly.

As a result, too many businesses and governmental agencies are “flying blind” when it comes to managing their environmental, water or energy information.

Companies with these types of problems should consider the Cloud Computing Model. The model exactly fits the way environmental information needs to be managed through mashups of various databases and technologies, and has the potential to completely upend the way corporations manage their environmental liability data or energy and resource consumption. 

Enterprises that have large portfolios of properties can use Cloud Computing as a very low-cost, no-commitment way to quickly take control of their mission critical environmental data and information and get new services and capabilities to take control of their compliance needs by entirely circumventing the IT department.

Many companies that do not have control or ownership of their critical environmental data, and most today don’t, and rely on an army of consultants and their spreadsheets to meet their reporting requirements, can continue trying to ignore Cloud Computing as it is just in its infancy, but doing so may be a mistake as Cloud Computing is looking more and more a classic disruptive technology.

How quickly can a company get control of its analytical data that sits scattered in consulting offices and consolidate it in to a usable database? Four weeks? Eight weeks? 10 months? For many enterprises, the answer is even longer. Today, the businesses need to respond in Internet time with new services, capabilities, and offerings to stay on top of their environmental compliance requirements. Yet, most companies aren’t well equipped to respond with speed. Most companies still have a “procure and provision” approach to the infrastructure that supports their services. Even if the decision has been made to purchase enterprise software to organize and manage large quantities of environmental and energy information and compliance activities in house, lengthy approval processes often kill many of these systems before they can be deployed.  The reason is that these can be a lengthy process of actions involving everyone from storage, networking, security, and sometimes facilities.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Amid Upbeat Earnings, Intel to Cut 1% of Employees, Add as Many

January 24, 2020

For all the sniping two tech old timers take, both IBM and Intel announced surprisingly upbeat earnings this week. IBM CEO Ginny Rometty was all smiles at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, after  Read more…

By Doug Black

Indiana University Dedicates ‘Big Red 200’ Cray Shasta Supercomputer

January 24, 2020

After six months of celebrations, Indiana University (IU) officially marked its bicentennial on Monday – and it saved the best for last, inaugurating Big Red 200, a new AI-focused supercomputer that joins the ranks of Read more…

By Staff report

What’s New in HPC Research: Tsunamis, Wildfires, the Large Hadron Collider & More

January 24, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Toshiba Promises Quantum-Like Advantage on Standard Hardware

January 23, 2020

Toshiba has invented an algorithm that it says delivers a 10-fold improvement for a select class of computational problems, without the need for exotic hardware. In fact, the company's simulated bifurcation algorithm is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Energy Research Combines HPC, 3D Manufacturing

January 23, 2020

A federal energy research initiative is gaining momentum with the release of a contract award aimed at using supercomputing to harness 3D printing technology that would boost the performance of power generators. Partn Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

Challenging the barriers to High Performance Computing in the Cloud

Cloud computing helps democratize High Performance Computing by placing powerful computational capabilities in the hands of more researchers, engineers, and organizations who may lack access to sufficient on-premises infrastructure. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Intelligent HPC – Keeping Hard Work at Bay(es)

Since the dawn of time, humans have looked for ways to make their lives easier. Over the centuries human ingenuity has given us inventions such as the wheel and simple machines – which help greatly with tasks that would otherwise be extremely laborious. Read more…

TACC Highlights Its Upcoming ‘IsoBank’ Isotope Database

January 22, 2020

Isotopes – elemental variations that contain different numbers of neutrons – can help researchers unearth the past of an object, especially the few hundred isotopes that are known to be stable over time. However, iso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Toshiba Promises Quantum-Like Advantage on Standard Hardware

January 23, 2020

Toshiba has invented an algorithm that it says delivers a 10-fold improvement for a select class of computational problems, without the need for exotic hardware Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Advanced Computing and HPC, Dell EMC Sets Sights on the Broader Market Middle 

January 22, 2020

If the leading advanced computing/HPC server vendors were in the batting lineup of a baseball team, Dell EMC would be going for lots of singles and doubles – Read more…

By Doug Black

DNA-Based Storage Nears Scalable Reality with New $25 Million Project

January 21, 2020

DNA-based storage, which involves storing binary code in the four nucleotides that constitute DNA, has been a moonshot for high-density data storage since the 1960s. Since the first successful experiments in the 1980s, researchers have made a series of major strides toward implementing DNA-based storage at scale, such as improving write times and storage density and enabling easier file identification and extraction. Now, a new $25 million... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AMD Recruits Intel, IBM Execs; Pending Layoffs Reported at Intel Data Platform Group

January 17, 2020

AMD has raided Intel and IBM for new senior managers, one of whom will replace an AMD executive who has played a prominent role during the company’s recharged Read more…

By Doug Black

Atos-AMD System to Quintuple Supercomputing Power at European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

January 15, 2020

The United Kingdom-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), a supercomputer-powered weather forecasting organization backed by most of Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

White House AI Regulatory Guidelines: ‘Remove Impediments to Private-sector AI Innovation’

January 9, 2020

When it comes to new technology, it’s been said government initially stays uninvolved – then gets too involved. The White House’s guidelines for federal a Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Touts Quantum Network Growth, Improving QC Quality, and Battery Research

January 8, 2020

IBM today announced its Q (quantum) Network community had grown to 100-plus – Delta Airlines and Los Alamos National Laboratory are among most recent addition Read more…

By John Russell

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

51,000 Cloud GPUs Converge to Power Neutrino Discovery at the South Pole

November 22, 2019

At the dead center of the South Pole, thousands of sensors spanning a cubic kilometer are buried thousands of meters beneath the ice. The sensors are part of Ic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed instances for storage workloads. The fourth-generation Azure D-series and E-series virtual machines previewed at the Rome launch in August are now generally available. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Summit Has Real-Time Analytics: Here’s How It Happened and What’s Next

October 3, 2019

Summit – the world’s fastest publicly-ranked supercomputer – now has real-time streaming analytics. At the 2019 HPC User Forum at Argonne National Laborat Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This