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!

The Present and Future of AI: A Discussion with HPC Visionary Dr. Eng Lim Goh

November 27, 2020

As HPE’s chief technology officer for artificial intelligence, Dr. Eng Lim Goh devotes much of his time talking and consulting with enterprise customers about how AI can benefit their business operations and products. Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

SC20 Panel – OK, You Hate Storage Tiering. What’s Next Then?

November 25, 2020

Tiering in HPC storage has a bad rep. No one likes it. It complicates things and slows I/O. At least one storage technology newcomer – VAST Data – advocates dumping the whole idea. One large-scale user, NERSC storage architect Glenn Lockwood sort of agrees. The challenge, of course, is that tiering... Read more…

By John Russell

Exscalate4CoV Runs 70 Billion-Molecule Coronavirus Simulation

November 25, 2020

The winds of the pandemic are changing – for better and for worse. Three viable vaccines now teeter on the brink of regulatory approval, which will pave the way for broad distribution by April or May. But until then, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the U.S. and Europe... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the Universi Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Gordon Bell Special Prize Goes to Massive SARS-CoV-2 Simulations

November 19, 2020

2020 has proven a harrowing year – but it has produced remarkable heroes. To that end, this year, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) introduced the Gordon Bell Special Prize for High Performance Computing-Ba Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Introducing AWS ParallelCluster as an Intel Select Solution

High performance computing (HPC) system owners can spend weeks or months researching, procuring, and assembling components to build HPC clusters to run their workloads. Understanding and managing the complexities of compute, storage, networking, and software requirements can be confusing and time-consuming, slowing innovation and results. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Intel Keynote Address

Intel is the foundation of HPC – from the workstation to the cloud to the backbone of the Top500. At SC20, Intel’s Trish Damkroger, VP and GM of high performance computing, addresses the audience to show how Intel and its partners are building the future of HPC today, through hardware and software technologies that accelerate the broad deployment of advanced HPC systems. Read more…

Gordon Bell Prize Winner Breaks Ground in AI-Infused Ab Initio Simulation

November 19, 2020

The race to blend deep learning and first-principle simulation to speed up solutions and scale up problems tackled is one of the most exciting research areas in computational science today. This year’s ACM Gordon Bell Prize winner announced today at SC20 makes significant progress in that direction. Read more…

By John Russell

The Present and Future of AI: A Discussion with HPC Visionary Dr. Eng Lim Goh

November 27, 2020

As HPE’s chief technology officer for artificial intelligence, Dr. Eng Lim Goh devotes much of his time talking and consulting with enterprise customers about Read more…

By Todd R. Weiss

SC20 Panel – OK, You Hate Storage Tiering. What’s Next Then?

November 25, 2020

Tiering in HPC storage has a bad rep. No one likes it. It complicates things and slows I/O. At least one storage technology newcomer – VAST Data – advocates dumping the whole idea. One large-scale user, NERSC storage architect Glenn Lockwood sort of agrees. The challenge, of course, is that tiering... Read more…

By John Russell

Exscalate4CoV Runs 70 Billion-Molecule Coronavirus Simulation

November 25, 2020

The winds of the pandemic are changing – for better and for worse. Three viable vaccines now teeter on the brink of regulatory approval, which will pave the way for broad distribution by April or May. But until then, COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing across the U.S. and Europe... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Gordon Bell Special Prize Goes to Massive SARS-CoV-2 Simulations

November 19, 2020

2020 has proven a harrowing year – but it has produced remarkable heroes. To that end, this year, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) introduced the Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Gordon Bell Prize Winner Breaks Ground in AI-Infused Ab Initio Simulation

November 19, 2020

The race to blend deep learning and first-principle simulation to speed up solutions and scale up problems tackled is one of the most exciting research areas in computational science today. This year’s ACM Gordon Bell Prize winner announced today at SC20 makes significant progress in that direction. Read more…

By John Russell

SC20 Keynote: Climate, Exascale & the Ultimate Answer

November 19, 2020

SC20’s keynote was delivered by renowned meteorologist and climatologist Bjorn Stevens, a director at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology since 2008 and a professor at the University of Hamburg. In his keynote, Stevens traced the history of climate science from its earliest days through... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

EuroHPC Exec. Dir. Talks Procurement, EPI, and Europe’s Efforts to Control its HPC Destiny

November 19, 2020

While much of the HPC community’s attention is fixed on SC20’s flood of news and new product announcements, Anders Dam Jensen, the newly-minted executive di Read more…

By Steve Conway

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

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

Azure Scaled to Record 86,400 Cores for Molecular Dynamics

November 20, 2020

A new record for HPC scaling on the public cloud has been achieved on Microsoft Azure. Led by Dr. Jer-Ming Chia, the cloud provider partnered with the Beckman I 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

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

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

NICS Unleashes ‘Kraken’ Supercomputer

April 4, 2008

A Cray XT4 supercomputer, dubbed Kraken, is scheduled to come online in mid-summer at the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS). The soon-to-be petascale system, and the resulting NICS organization, are the result of an NSF Track II award of $65 million to the University of Tennessee and its partners to provide next-generation supercomputing for the nation's science community. Read more…

Is the Nvidia A100 GPU Performance Worth a Hardware Upgrade?

October 16, 2020

Over the last decade, accelerators have seen an increasing rate of adoption in high-performance computing (HPC) platforms, and in the June 2020 Top500 list, eig Read more…

By Hartwig Anzt, Ahmad Abdelfattah and Jack Dongarra

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Aurora’s Troubles Move Frontier into Pole Exascale Position

October 1, 2020

Intel’s 7nm node delay has raised questions about the status of the Aurora supercomputer that was scheduled to be stood up at Argonne National Laboratory next year. Aurora was in the running to be the United States’ first exascale supercomputer although it was on a contemporaneous timeline with... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

At Oak Ridge, ‘End of Life’ Sometimes Isn’t

October 31, 2020

Sometimes, the old dog actually does go live on a farm. HPC systems are often cursed with short lifespans, as they are continually supplanted by the latest and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Texas A&M Announces Flagship ‘Grace’ Supercomputer

November 9, 2020

Texas A&M University has announced its next flagship system: Grace. The new supercomputer, named for legendary programming pioneer Grace Hopper, is replacing the Ada system (itself named for mathematician Ada Lovelace) as the primary workhorse for Texas A&M’s High Performance Research Computing (HPRC). Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Top500: Fugaku Keeps Crown, Nvidia’s Selene Climbs to #5

November 16, 2020

With the publication of the 56th Top500 list today from SC20's virtual proceedings, Japan's Fugaku supercomputer – now fully deployed – notches another win, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia and EuroHPC Team for Four Supercomputers, Including Massive ‘Leonardo’ System

October 15, 2020

The EuroHPC Joint Undertaking (JU) serves as Europe’s concerted supercomputing play, currently comprising 32 member states and billions of euros in funding. I Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

Nvidia-Arm Deal a Boon for RISC-V?

October 26, 2020

The $40 billion blockbuster acquisition deal that will bring chipmaker Arm into the Nvidia corporate family could provide a boost for the competing RISC-V architecture. As regulators in the U.S., China and the European Union begin scrutinizing the impact of the blockbuster deal on semiconductor industry competition and innovation, the deal has at the very least... Read more…

By George Leopold

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