Profile of a Data Science Pioneer

By Karen Green, RENCI

June 28, 2016

As he approaches retirement, Reagan Moore reflects on SRB, iRODS, and the ongoing challenge of helping scientists manage their data.

In 1994, Reagan Moore managed the production computing systems at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), a job that entailed running and maintaining huge Cray computing systems as well as networking, archival storage, security, job scheduling, and visualization systems.

At the time, research was evolving from analyses done by individuals on single computers into a collaborative activity using distributed, interconnected and heterogeneous resources. With those changes came challenges. As Moore recalls, the software needed to manage data and interactions in a widely distributed environment didn’t exist.

Moore-UGM-1600x
Reagan Moore addresses attendees at the iRODS User Group Meeting, held June 8 and 9 in Chapel Hill, NC.

“The systems at that time were things like AFS (Andrew File System), but it had major restrictions,” said Moore. AFS was implemented as modifications to the operating system kernel. To implement AFS for the National Science Foundation’s National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI) program, which SDSC managed in the 1990s, required partitioning of user IDs to reserve IDs for each NPACI site.

“Every time you updated a site’s kernel you had to reinstall the AFS mods and preserve the user IDs,” Moore recalled. “With sites that used different operating systems, this became difficult.”

Moore saw the technical challenges as an opportunity for research in distributed data management. He secured funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and with a team of talented visionaries and software developers created the Storage Resource Broker (SRB).

From SRB to iRODS

Over time, SRB evolved into iRODS, the integrated Rule Oriented Data System and Moore, now a professor in the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a data scientist at UNC’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), stands on the brink of retirement. iRODS, the middleware platform that started as the SRB, now boasts more than 20,000 end users spanning six continents and manages more than 100 petabytes of data. The iRODS Consortium, established in 2014 to sustain the continued development of iRODS, now includes 17 members as well as four partner organizations that help with iRODS deployments and support services.

It’s a software and enabling science success story that developed over two decades and involved much hard work as well as an aggressive goal.

Moore-Ahalt-1600x
Reagan Moore, left, with RENCI Director Stan Ahalt after receiving recognition for long and successful career at the recent iRODS User Group meeting in Chapel Hill, NC.

“Reagan is a visionary,” said Arcot Rajasekar, who started working with Moore in the mid 1990s and made the move from SDSC to UNC-Chapel Hill with him in 2008. “He was talking about massive data analysis and data intensive computing a full 15 years before the phrase ‘big data’ was coined. These days the word ‘policy’ in data management, curation, sharing and analysis is becoming mainstream. But Reagan was talking about it a long while back.”

Rajasekar, also a professor in UNC’s SILS and a RENCI data scientist, was a key member of the original Data Intensive Computing Environments (DICE) research group, the team established to develop the SRB. Other members were system architect Mike Wan, principle developer Wayne Schroeder, and technical manager Chaitan Baru. Over 20 years, the DICE group landed 34 research grants.

“The way we approached the problem was through a very large number of collaborations instead of one large project,” Moore remembers. “The research communities provided the requirements; we took their requirements and translated them into generic data management infrastructure.”

Toward rule-oriented data management

Moore gives credit to Rajasekar for inventing the idea of rule-oriented data management. iRODS developed because SRB users wanted to enforce different constraints for different data collections while using a common infrastructure. Moore remembers working with the data group of the UK’s e-Science Program and learning they needed to guarantee files could not be deleted from one data collection. For another collection, they wanted the system administrator to be able to delete and replace bad data, and for a third, they required the collection owner to be able to delete and add data at will.

“What Rajasekar did was to extract the policy that controls the deletion operation from the software and put the rule in a rule base,” said Moore. “Then we could make rules appropriate to each collection.”

That was the birth of policy-based data management, which allows users to define their own policies and procedures for enforcing management decisions, automating administrative tasks, and validating assessment criteria. As Moore says, “There are three reasons people go to policy-based data management. One is that there are management decisions they need to enforce properly. Another is they are dealing with distributed data at multiple administrative domains on multiple types of software systems. A third is that the collection has grown so large it can no longer be managed at a single site.”

Tenacity and dedication to his craft are traits that Moore’s longtime colleagues know well. According to Baru, now senior advisor for data science in the National Science Foundation’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate, Moore sees his job as a mission.

“We used to say that he loved his work and travel so much that he used his airline mileage credits for even more business travel,” said Baru. “He was also the master of stretching the travel dollar. He introduced me to that specific parking lot down Pacific Coast Highway in San Diego that had the cheapest daily rate. To this day, I think of that as ‘Reagan’s lot.’”

The Future: Virtualized Data Flows and SDN

With retirement just around the corner, Moore, always humble and soft spoken, acknowledges his role in changing research from a cottage industry into an endeavor focused on distributed, often large-scale collaborative projects.

“We started out trying to virtualize properties of collections. Most of the world wanted to virtualize storage; we wanted to virtualize the data you were putting into the storage so you could manage collection properties independently of the choice of storage technology,” he said.

Moore-Coposky-1600x
Reagan Moore, left, is congratulated for his years of service by Jason Coposky, interim executive director of the iRODS Consortium, at the annual iRODS User Group Meeting in June. In the background are Helen Tibbo, a professional in the UNC School of Information and Library Science, and Chaitan Baru, senior advisor for data science in the NSF’s CISE directorate.

Next came virtualizing workflows that are executed on compute systems, a process that allows iRODS users to name their workflows, apply access controls, re-execute analyses, track provenance, and generally make it easier for someone else to reapply the same analysis on their own data—all essential capabilities for reproducible research. The next step forward in comprehensive data management, said Moore, is virtualizing data flows.

“I want to be able to describe how data moves across the network, what the sources are, what the destinations are, and apply operations on data in flight,” he said. “That’s what is happening now with the advent of software defined networking. They are putting policies into the network.”

In July 2014, it didn’t seem likely Moore would have the chance to see the future of policy-based data management or even enjoy his retirement. While on a business trip, he suffered massive heart failure. He was resuscitated three times and spent the next six months facing a major challenge: How to stay away from the work he loves and concentrate on rest and recuperation.

“If I were a cat, I’d be on my fourth life, so now seems to be a good time to retire,” he said. Not surprisingly, he has a longstanding hobby to keep him busy. Moore started doing his family genealogy 26 years ago and decided he needed to derive the properties of a complete genealogy in order to know when the project was complete.

“I built a 252,000 person research genealogy, wrote a graph database so I could analyze it, and derived the properties that define when a genealogy is complete. Now I have to start marketing it so other people can take advantage of the results.”

Meanwhile the praises for his contributions to science keep coming in.

“Professor Moore is a visionary pioneer in defining and creating distributed digital library infrastructure,” said Gary Marchionini, Dean and Cary C. Boshamer Professor at the UNC’’s SILS. “He is internationally recognized for his work that makes it possible for data scientists and archivists to instantiate data management policies in code that automates preservation activities. The information science community has been strongly influenced by his work over the past quarter century.”

Added Robert Chadduck of the NSF’s Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, “While I continue to value and be enriched by Reagan’s too-many-to-count contributions to technologies and to scientific advances…I also value his shared contributions to understanding the history and perpetuity of all of us as people as documented in his life contributions to the genealogical record embodying his family.”

And finally, from Wayne Schroeder, the software engineer who worked with Moore in the original DICE group:

“I enjoyed working for Reagan. I liked his fairness, his no-nonsense approach, his can-do attitude, and of course his brilliant mind. He set up an environment where we were free to creatively design and implement software that was both research itself and of practical use to scientific and archival communities.”

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!

AI Silicon Startup Graphcore Launches Channel Partner Program

September 23, 2020

AI compute platform vendor Graphcore has launched its first formal global channel partner program to promote and boost the sales of its AI processors and blade computing products. The formalized, all-new Graphcore Eli Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

Arm Targets HPC with New Neoverse Platforms

September 22, 2020

UK-based semiconductor design company Arm today teased details of its Neoverse roadmap, introducing V1 (codenamed Zeus) and N2 (codenamed Perseus), Arm’s second generation N-series platform. The chip IP vendor said the Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft’s Azure Quantum Platform Now Offers Toshiba’s ‘Simulated Bifurcation Machine’

September 22, 2020

While pure-play quantum computing (QC) gets most of the QC-related attention, there’s also been steady progress adapting quantum methods for select use on classical computers. Today, Microsoft announced that Toshiba’ Read more…

By John Russell

Oracle Cloud Deepens HPC Embrace with Launch of A100 Instances, Plans for Arm, More 

September 22, 2020

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) continued its steady ramp-up of HPC capabilities today with a flurry of announcements. Topping the list is general availability of instances with Nvidia’s newest GPU, the A100. OCI als Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, CQC Enable Cloud-based Quantum Random Number Generation

September 21, 2020

IBM and Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) have partnered to achieve progress on one of the major business aspirations for quantum computing – the goal of generating verified, truly random numbers that can be used for a Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

AWS Solution Channel

The Water Institute of the Gulf runs compute-heavy storm surge and wave simulations on AWS

The Water Institute of the Gulf (Water Institute) runs its storm surge and wave analysis models on Amazon Web Services (AWS)—a task that sometimes requires large bursts of compute power. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Berlin Institute of Health: Putting HPC to Work for the World

Researchers from the Center for Digital Health at the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) are using science to understand the pathophysiology of COVID-19, which can help to inform the development of targeted treatments. Read more…

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at current count) across the European Union and supplanting HPC Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Arm Targets HPC with New Neoverse Platforms

September 22, 2020

UK-based semiconductor design company Arm today teased details of its Neoverse roadmap, introducing V1 (codenamed Zeus) and N2 (codenamed Perseus), Arm’s seco Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oracle Cloud Deepens HPC Embrace with Launch of A100 Instances, Plans for Arm, More 

September 22, 2020

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) continued its steady ramp-up of HPC capabilities today with a flurry of announcements. Topping the list is general availabilit Read more…

By John Russell

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Future of Fintech on Display at HPC + AI Wall Street

September 17, 2020

Those who tuned in for Tuesday's HPC + AI Wall Street event got a peak at the future of fintech and lively discussion of topics like blockchain, AI for risk man Read more…

By Alex Woodie, Tiffany Trader and Todd R. Weiss

IBM’s Quantum Race to One Million Qubits

September 15, 2020

IBM today outlined its ambitious quantum computing technology roadmap at its virtual Quantum Summit. The eye-popping million qubit number is still far out, agrees IBM, but perhaps not that far out. Just as eye-popping is IBM’s nearer-term plan for a 1,000-plus qubit system named Condor... Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Commits to Buy Arm for $40B

September 14, 2020

Nvidia is acquiring semiconductor design company Arm Ltd. for $40 billion from SoftBank in a blockbuster deal that catapults the GPU chipmaker to a dominant position in the datacenter while helping troubled SoftBank reverse its financial woes. The deal, which has been rumored for... Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss and George Leopold

AMD’s Massive COVID-19 HPC Fund Adds 18 Institutions, 5 Petaflops of Power

September 14, 2020

Almost exactly five months ago, AMD announced its COVID-19 HPC Fund, an ongoing flow of resources and equipment to research institutions studying COVID-19 that began with an initial donation of $15 million. In June, AMD announced major equipment donations to several major institutions. Now, AMD is making its third major COVID-19 HPC Fund... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer-Powered Research Uncovers Signs of ‘Bradykinin Storm’ That May Explain COVID-19 Symptoms

July 28, 2020

Doctors and medical researchers have struggled to pinpoint – let alone explain – the deluge of symptoms induced by COVID-19 infections in patients, and what Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia Said to Be Close on Arm Deal

August 3, 2020

GPU leader Nvidia Corp. is in talks to buy U.K. chip designer Arm from parent company Softbank, according to several reports over the weekend. If consummated Read more…

By George Leopold

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel’s 7nm Slip Raises Questions About Ponte Vecchio GPU, Aurora Supercomputer

July 30, 2020

During its second-quarter earnings call, Intel announced a one-year delay of its 7nm process technology, which it says it will create an approximate six-month shift for its CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. The primary issue is a defect mode in the 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Keeps Cray Brand Promise, Reveals HPE Cray Supercomputing Line

August 4, 2020

The HPC community, ever-affectionate toward Cray and its eponymous founder, can breathe a (virtual) sigh of relief. The Cray brand will live on, encompassing th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Hires Longtime Intel Exec Bill Magro to Lead HPC Strategy

September 18, 2020

In a sign of the times, another prominent HPCer has made a move to a hyperscaler. Longtime Intel executive Bill Magro joined Google as chief technologist for hi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

European Commission Declares €8 Billion Investment in Supercomputing

September 18, 2020

Just under two years ago, the European Commission formalized the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU): a concerted HPC effort (comprising 32 participating states at c Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Powers Fugaku’s Storage, Scores IO500 Win

August 28, 2020

In June, RIKEN shook the supercomputing world with its Arm-based, Fujitsu-built juggernaut: Fugaku. The system, which weighs in at 415.5 Linpack petaflops, topp Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 “Accelerator Optimized” VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by the HGX A100 16-GPU platform, which combines two HGX A100 8-GPU baseboards using... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DOD Orders Two AI-Focused Supercomputers from Liqid

August 24, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense is making a big investment in data analytics and AI computing with the procurement of two HPC systems that will provide the High Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft Azure Adds A100 GPU Instances for ‘Supercomputer-Class AI’ in the Cloud

August 19, 2020

Microsoft Azure continues to infuse its cloud platform with HPC- and AI-directed technologies. Today the cloud services purveyor announced a new virtual machine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan’s Fugaku Tops Global Supercomputing Rankings

June 22, 2020

A new Top500 champ was unveiled today. Supercomputer Fugaku, the pride of Japan and the namesake of Mount Fuji, vaulted to the top of the 55th edition of the To Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Joliot-Curie Supercomputer Used to Build First Full, High-Fidelity Aircraft Engine Simulation

July 14, 2020

When industrial designers plan the design of a new element of a vehicle’s propulsion or exterior, they typically use fluid dynamics to optimize airflow and in 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