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Bill St. Arnaud is a consultant and research engineer who works with clients around the world on a variety of subjects such as next generation Internet networks and developing practical solutions to reduce CO2 emissions such as free broadband and dynamic charging of eVehicles. He is an author of many papers and articles on these topics and is a frequent guest speaker. For more details on my research interests see

Friday, May 27, 2011

Open Science, Science as a Service and Open Lightpath Exchanges

[As I mentioned in my previous blog there is a growing world wide momentum of new R&E network architectures built around open lightpath exchanges (OLEs) also referred to as GLIF Open LightPath  Exchanges (GOLEs).
Although the initial impetus for OLEs has been driven by the needs of big science such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, I think they will have a profound impact on all scientific disciplines.  Many commercial cloud providers are starting to offer free cloud services to the scientific community such as Microsoft and Amazon (See NSF announcement below). But I think this trend will continue as companies like Enomaly start to broker underused private cloud infrastructure at pharmaceutical companies etc who are willing to offer them up for free to the university research community for the tax breaks or as part of their contribution to open science.

One of the big challenges of using commercial cloud services for science is the transfer of large data sets to and from these clouds.  OLEs can play a critical role by providing for the interconnection between cloud providers and researchers. Because OLEs are policy free and non-blocking there is no restriction on who or what can connect – whereas most R&E networks have constraints against commercial traffic transiting their networks. A good example of this type of approach is the 10Gbps lightpaths between UCSD to Pacific Northwest GOLE interconnected to the Amazon Cloud to support oceanographic cyber-infrastructure.   Another great  example is the transfer of large image data sets to the New York Planetarium through the MAN LAN in New York City as reported by John Markhoff in the NY Times.  Many other similar initiatives are under development.

OLEs will underpin the move to continent  or global wide Cyber-infrastructure or eInfrastructure. Future computing demands increase with the next generation of supercomputers requiring massive amounts of (ideally green) power. This will require that these systems be located a remote locations to serve an entire community rather than researchers in a single institution and most likely be integrated with commercial green clouds as well.  CERN is at the forefront of these developments as it is investigating relocating its data center to Northern Europe for these very reasons, where it wil have access to low cost clean hydro-electric power.  The worlds’ leading climate research center NCAR has done this  as well – by relocating their data center in Wyoming – but bizarrely for an organization that is concerned about the climate they chose a remote location that uses only dirty coal generated power. Bad, bad, NCAR.

Integrating OLEs or GOLEs with clouds will also enable “Science as a Service” where a researcher some day can carry out complex analysis and do large data analysis from the comfort of their local coffee shop as beautifully demonstrated in a paper by Ian Foster : ´ Accelerating and Democratizing Science through Cloud Based Services”

Ultimately Science as a Service will enable truly open science and participation by a much broader community such as schools and citizen scientists as documented in this article in the Guardian below and my blog on the subject.  – BSA]

Pointer to the topics mentioned in this blog:

Examples of Science projects being supported through  free access to commercial cloud services

Open science: a future shaped by shared experience
Mapping the human genome showed how the internet can play a vital part in collective scientific research. Now more scientists are collaborating – and inviting amateurs and colleagues from other disciplines to get involved….

Ian Foster - Accelerating and Democratizing Science through Cloud Based Services

Digging Deeper, Seeing Farther: Supercomputers Alter Science

Ocean Observatories Will Make Use of CENIC and Pacific NorthWest GigaPoP 10-Gigabit Peerings with Amazon Web Services

Citizen Science

Green Internet Consultant. Practical solutions to reducing GHG emissions such as free broadband and electric highways.

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