The Gateway to Science Discovery
Cloud computing – using a network of servers to deliver services hosted on the Internet – is transforming the way research is done. It provides access to huge computing capacity and support for scaling dynamically to meet fluctuating demands. Moreover, software consumers benefit from the increased access to reliable software, without having to install, operate, or even understand the inner workings of the software. Why, then has cloud computing not been more widely adopted for scientific applications?
We believe that the same benefits that large communities gain from science gateways – such as providing easy-to-use access to complex and computationally intensive analyses and large shared datasets – can transform the research practices of smaller research groups.
Ravi Madduri (MCS), Software Engineer
The main reason, according to researchers at Argonne and the University of Chicago/Argonne Computation Institute, is the gap between the specialized needs of science applications and the capabilities provided by cloud infrastructures.
Arguably, a number of cloud-based scientific gateways have been developed and used successfully. But these generally are used by large and well-funded user communities and often require expert technical staff to operate the platforms.
The use of public cloud computers to host sophisticated scientific data and software is transforming scientific practice by enabling broad access to capabilities previously available only to the few. The primary obstacle to more widespread use of public clouds to host scientific software (‘cloud-based science gateways’) has thus far been the considerable gap between the specialized needs of science applications and the capabilities provided by cloud infrastructures. We describe here a domain-independent, cloud-based science gateway platform, the Globus Galaxies platform, which overcomes this gap by providing a set of hosted services that directly address the needs of science gateway developers.
The design and implementation of this platform leverages our several years of experience with Globus Genomics, a cloud-based science gateway that has served more than 200 genomics researchers across 30 institutions. Building on that foundation, we have implemented a platform that leverages the popular Galaxy system for application hosting and workflow execution; Globus services for data transfer, user and group management, and authentication; and a cost-aware elastic provisioning model specialized for public cloud resources. We describe here the capabilities and architecture of this platform, present six scientific domains in which we have successfully applied it, report on user experiences, and analyze the economics of our deployments.
Ravi Madduri, Kyle Chard, Ryan Chard, Lukasz Lacinski, Alex Rodriguez, Dinanath Sulakhe, David Kelly, Utpal Dave, Ian Foster, “The Globus Galaxies Platform: Delivering Science Gateways as a Service,” Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, DOI: 10.1002/cpe.3486. Published Online April 29, 2015.