UW News

August 8, 2019

UW, UC San Diego, UC Berkeley receive $5M NSF award to simplify researcher access to public clouds

The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $5 million grant to the University of California, San Diego, the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley 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 computer science research and education community.

Project participants include the UW’s eScience Institute, UC San Diego’s Information Technology Services Division and the San Diego Supercomputer Center, 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.

“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,” said CloudBank co-principal investigator Ed Lazowska, a professor of computer science and engineering at the UW and founding director of the eScience Institute. “The public cloud represents the future.”

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Data- and computation-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.

“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 Michael Norman, principal investigator of CloudBank and director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center. “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.”

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.

“We are excited to be a partner in this initiative that democratizes cloud technology for research and education,” said CloudBank co-principal investigator David Culler, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley. “It will enable a robust and scalable infrastructure across a diverse range of institutions and settings.”

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 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.

“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, an assistant director for computer and information science and engineering at the NSF. “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,” said CloudBank co-principal investigator Vince Kellen, chief information officer at UC San Diego.

“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,” said Norman.


Adapted from releases by UC San Diego and the NSF.

Grant number: 1925001