NSF Awards $10M to Extend Chameleon Cloud Testbed Project

By John Russell

September 19, 2017

The National Science Foundation has awarded a second phase, $10 million grant to the Chameleon cloud computing testbed project led by University of Chicago with partners at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), and Northwestern University. The three-year grant will add hardware and expand access.

Currently Chameleon is approximately 600-node cloud infrastructure with bare metal reconfiguration privileges. This level of access allows researchers to go beyond limited development on existing commercial or scientific clouds, offering a customizable platform to create and test new cloud computing architectures.

“In phase one we built a testbed, but in phase two we’re going to transform this testbed into a scientific instrument,” said Kate Keahey, Argonne computer scientist, Computation Institute fellow, and Chameleon project PI. “We’re going to extend the capabilities that allow users to keep a record of their experiments in Chameleon and provide new services that allow them to build more repeatable experiments.”

In its first phase, Chameleon supported work in computer science areas such as cybersecurity, OS design and power management; researchers could “realistically simulate cyberattacks upon cloud computing systems to improve their defenses, train students to search high-resolution telescope images for undiscovered exoplanets, and develop machine learning algorithms that automatically determine the most energy-efficient task assignment schemes for large data centers.”

Phase two includes adding racks at UChicago and TACC, infusion of highly-contested resources such as GPUs, and Corsa network switches. The new Corsa switches enable experimentation with software-defined networking (SDN) within a Chameleon site as well as extending individual SDN experiments across the wide-area to include resources from either Chameleon site or even from other compatible testbeds, such as NSF’s GENI.

On the software side, the Chameleon team will package CHI (CHameleon Infrastructure), the software operating Chameleon, based primarily on the open-source OpenStack project to which the University of Chicago team made substantial contributions. Packaging the Chameleon operational model will allow others to create their own experimental clouds easily.

Link to TACC article: https://www.tacc.utexas.edu/-/cloud-computing-testbed-chameleon-renewed-for-second-phase

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