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!

NSF Budget Approved for $8.3B in 2020, a 2.5% Increase

January 16, 2020

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has been spared a President Trump-proposed budget cut that would have rolled back its funding to 2012 levels. Congress passed legislation last month that sets the budget at $8.3 bill Read more…

By Staff report

NOAA Updates Its Massive, Supercomputer-Generated Climate Dataset

January 15, 2020

As Australia burns, understanding and mitigating the climate crisis is more urgent than ever. Now, by leveraging the computing resources at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has updated its 20th Century Reanalysis Project (20CR) dataset... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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 the countries in Europe, has signed a four-year, $89-million 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, the gold standard programming languages for fast performance Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Computing, ML Drive 2019 Patent Awards

January 14, 2020

The dizzying pace of technology innovation often fueled by the growing availability of computing horsepower is underscored by the race to develop unique designs and application that can be patented. Among the goals of ma 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…

Andrew Jones Joins Microsoft Azure HPC Team

January 13, 2020

Andrew Jones announced today he is joining Microsoft as part of the Azure HPC engineering & product team in early February. Jones makes the move after nearly 12 years at the UK HPC consultancy Numerical Algorithms Gr Read more…

By Staff report

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

HPCwire Awards Highlight Supercomputing Achievements in the Sciences

January 7, 2020

In November at SC19 in Denver, the HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice awards program celebrated its 16th year of honoring remarkable achievements in high-performance computing. With categories ranging from Best Use of HPC in Energy to Top HPC-Enabled Scientific Achievement, many of the winners contributed to groundbreaking developments in the sciences. This editorial highlights those awards. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Blasts from the (Recent) Past and Hopes for the Future

December 23, 2019

What does 2020 look like to you? What did 2019 look like? Lots happened but the main trends were carryovers from 2018 – AI messaging again blanketed everything; the roll-out of new big machines and exascale announcements continued; processor diversity and system disaggregation kicked up a notch; hyperscalers continued flexing their muscles (think AWS and its Graviton2 processor); and the U.S. and China continued their awkward trade war. Read more…

By John Russell

ARPA-E Applies ML to Power Generation Designs

December 19, 2019

The U.S. Energy Department’s research arm is leveraging machine learning technologies to simplify the design process for energy systems ranging from photovolt Read more…

By George Leopold

Focused on ‘Silicon TAM,’ Intel Puts Gary Patton, Former GlobalFoundries CTO, in Charge of Design Enablement

December 12, 2019

Change within Intel’s upper management – and to its company mission – has continued as a published report has disclosed that chip technology heavyweight G Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

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