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NSF funds pilot to serve as interface between CISE research community and cloud computing providers


August 6, 2019

Enhancing access to cloud computing resources for research and education

New NSF-funded entity to pilot serving as the principal interface between the computer and information science and engineering research and education community and public cloud computing providers

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a team at the University of California, San Diego, University of California, Berkeley, and University of Washington to establish an entity that will serve as the principal interface between the NSF-funded Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) research and education community and public cloud computing providers. This entity, called CloudBank and funded following competitive review (see NSF 19-510 Cloud Access for details), will deliver a set of managed services designed to enhance, democratize, and better leverage the use of cloud computing resources for CISE research and education.

Data- and compute-intensive research and education are at the forefront of addressing many national and societal challenges – and they increasingly benefit from access to cloud computing platforms, which provide robust, agile, reliable, and scalable computing infrastructure.

“We are delighted to be funding the CloudBank pilot, which will significantly advance the use of cloud computing resources in CISE research and education,” said Jim Kurose, NSF Assistant Director for CISE. “The close collaboration between the CloudBank project, public cloud computing providers, researchers, and students will simultaneously enable new research and education while also providing a unique opportunity to develop and study the operational, technological, and business dimensions of a fundamentally new model of public/private partnership in the service of the research and education enterprise.”

CloudBank will support the full spectrum of cloud users, from early-stage to advanced, providing on-ramp support that reduces researcher cloud adoption pain points, including managing costs, translating and upgrading research computing environments to appropriate cloud platforms, and learning cloud-based technologies that accelerate and expand research and education. These functions will be accessed via an intuitive, easy-to-use user portal that gives users a single point of entry.

CloudBank will enable access to multiple public cloud computing providers, and also provide innovative financial options that will give researchers more flexible cloud terms tailored for their research and education needs.

A primary objective of CloudBank is to broaden the access and impact of cloud computing across the many fields of CISE research and education. The project will reach thousands of researchers and students through allocated research projects and classes. A far larger group of stakeholders will benefit from CloudBank outreach efforts, such as workshops, publications, the CloudBank Center of Excellence on Cloud-Enabled Research and Education, and the CloudBank Advisory Board.

NSF support for this innovative pilot within the CISE research and education community follows recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and multiple community visioning workshops, which have called for enhancing access to cloud resources by providing researchers and educators with strategic technical guidance and training in using the cloud, partnering with public cloud computing providers, reducing or eliminating indirect cost recovery for acquiring or using cloud computing resources, and bulk purchasing of cloud computing resources.

CloudBank offers a long-term vision for service and sustainability that will broaden the impact of public cloud computing across CISE research, and help ensure that students entering the workforce and research enterprise will be able to contribute and compete in the global economy.

For up-to-date information about CloudBank, visit https://www.cloudbank.org/.

 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2019, its budget is $8.1 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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