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Transforming Science Through Cyberinfrastructure

NSF’s Blueprint for a National Cyberinfrastructure Ecosystem for Science and Engineering in the 21st Century



Twenty-first century science and engineering (S&E) research is being transformed by the increasing availability and scales of computation and data. The national cyberinfrastructure (CI) ecosystem has thus become a key catalyst for discovery and innovation and now plays a critical role in ensuring US leadership in S&E, economic competitiveness and national security, consistent with NSF's mission. It is therefore essential that the NSF ensures that this CI ecosystems continues to evolve in response to changing S&E applications and technology landscapes, driven by science needs and community inputs, to ensure that it supports NSF’s mission to advance all areas of S&E research and education. The document linked below outlines NSF’s vision for an integrated CI ecosystem as well as a strategy to achieving this vision.
This vision and blueprint presented in this document have been developed by the NSF Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) on behalf of NSF based on a synthesis of multiple community inputs through advisory bodies, requests for information (RFIs), workshops and conferences, and national initiatives, such as the ones linked below.
This vision builds NSF’s investments as part of the NSF-wide initiative entitled "Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21)", which embodied a vision and inclusive strategy to accelerate research and education through investments advanced cyberinfrastructure. The five years CIF21 initiative (2012-2017) saw NSF significantly expand its cross-cutting CI investments to include data and software infrastructure as well as learning and workforce development across the foundation. As CIF21 came to a close in 2017, NSF launched an effort to refresh the vision, strategy, and investment approaches for cyberinfrastructure to support the evolving needs of the science and engineering research community.


Draft Vision & Blueprint Document

NSF envisions an agile, integrated, robust, trustworthy and sustainable CI ecosystem that drives new thinking and transformative discoveries in all areas of S&E research and education.

The first draft document linked below contains two parts: an overall vision for an integrated CI ecosystem, and blueprint for NSF’s computational ecosystem. The additional documents each provide blueprints for other elements of a National cyberinfrastructure ecosystem.

The vision and blueprint presented in the documents contains several overarching principles:

  • View CI more holistically ~ seamlessly integrated spectrum of resources, tools, services, and expertise to enable transformative discoveries.
  • Support translational research ~ core innovations → development of community tools and frameworks → deployment and operation of sustainable production CI.
  • Balance innovation with stability ~ longer continuity in production computational capacity while fostering innovation and transition to production.
  • Couple discovery and CI innovation cycles ~ more rapidly address new challenges and opportunities in an era of disruptive technologies and evolving science needs.
  • Improve usability ~ ease pathways for discovering, accessing, understanding and using powerful CI capabilities and services to enhance researcher productivity and scientific impact.

And focuses on two strategies:

  • Deploy a balanced computational ecosystem that supports broad and diverse requirements, users and usage modes. Leadership Class Systems, Capacity Systems, Federated Resources, Prototypes and Testbeds, in concert with ongoing investment in Campus CI and a new emphasis on inclusion of emerging cloud resources and services.
  • Achieve maximal impact from the array of computational capabilities and expertise Strategic investments in crosscutting coordination, resource allocation, user services and support, performance measurement capabilities, and CI workforce development.

Feedback on this document is greatly encouraged. NSF will continue to work with the community to evolve and implement this blueprint for computational resources/services, as well as to develop complementary blueprints for other CI elements, with the overarching goal of realizing an integrated CI ecosystem that transforms science.


Inputs to the Blueprint

This section will be updated as new information arises.

NEW! NSF Data-Focused CI Request for Information
To further inform NSF's CI plans and in light of the increasingly central role played by digital data in all areas of S&E research, from October to December 2019, NSF requested input from the research community on "Data-Focused Cyberinfrastructure Needed to Support Future Data-Intensive Science and Engineering Research". A link to the Dear Colleague Letter and associated responses are below.

NSF CI 2030 Request for Information
To inform the development of the new NSF strategy, in 2017, NSF Directorates and Offices jointly requested input and bold forward-looking ideas from the research community on science challenges and associated cyberinfrastructure needs over the next decade and beyond. NSF has publicly posted the responses to the RFI (link below) and is currently analyzing the responses in collaboration with the NSF Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure (ACCI).

ACCI Report on the NSF CI 2030 RFI Responses
The NSF Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure (ACCI) undertook a major effort over 2017 and 2018 to summarize and analyze the responses to the NSF CI 2030 RFI. The report from this analysis was approved by the ACCI membership at its Fall 2018 meeting and is posted below. Please note that the ACCI provides independent advice to the National Science Foundation. All opinions, findings, and recommendations expressed within this report are those of the ACCI and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

Other relevant community and disciplinary inputs.