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UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, U Washington Announce ‘CloudBank’ Award

$5 million NSF grant to simplify researcher access to public clouds

UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, and the University of Washington have been awarded a five-year, $5 million grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop CloudBank, a suite of managed services to simplify public cloud access for computer science research and education.

Driven by the ongoing emergence and potential of the public cloud and the associated complexity in using it, CloudBank will serve both novice and advanced users, providing a comprehensive set of user-facing and business operations functions and services to the broad computer science research and education community.

Project participants include UC San Diego’s Information Technology Services Division and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the University of Washington’s eScience Institute, and UC Berkeley’s Division of Data Science and Information. Initially, CloudBank will provide access to Amazon AWS, Google GCP, and Microsoft Azure. Others may become available over time.

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

“Public cloud has become an essential resource for computer science research and education, but with the rapid growth in the diversity of resource offerings, users increasingly encounter pain points to adoption that limit the potential of these resources in their work,” said SDSC Director Michael Norman, Principal Investigator for the project. “CloudBank will address these pain points by providing ‘on-ramp’ support that helps researchers overcome challenges such as managing cost, translating and upgrading research computing environments to an appropriate cloud platform, and learning cloud-based technologies that accelerate and expand research.”

These services, which will support multiple cloud vendors, will be accessed via an intuitive, easy-to-use user portal that gives users a single point of entry. “This wide-ranging collaboration between UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, and the University of Washington brings together a team with the expertise to significantly broaden access to and education about cloud computing across just about every area of computer science research,” added Norman.

“The CloudBank pilot will significantly advance the use of cloud computing resources in computer and information science and engineering research and education,” said Jim Kurose, National Science Foundation assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “The close collaboration between the CloudBank project, public cloud computing providers, researchers and students will enable research and education, while also providing a unique opportunity to develop and study a new model of public/private partnership in the service of the scientific enterprise.”

“CloudBank will provide innovative financial options that will give researchers more flexible cloud terms tailored for their needs and contribute to the sustainability of CloudBank operations,” added Vince Kellen, UC San Diego Chief Information Officer and a co-PI for the project.

Ed Lazowska, who is also a CloudBank co-PI and holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, further explained that "we're delighted to once again partner with UCSD and UC Berkeley on a project of broad importance to the computer science and data science communities. The public cloud represents the future."

"We are excited to be a partner in this initiative that democratizes cloud technology for research and education,” said David Culler, CloudBank co-PI and Friesen Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at Berkeley. “It will enable a robust and scalable infrastructure across a diverse range of institutions and settings."

The CloudBank award, funded under NSF grant 1925001, runs from August 1, 2019 through July 2024 (estimated).  The award abstract can be found here. An NSF press release regarding the award can be found here. And, an FAQ on CloudBank is available at cloudbank.org.  


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