Counting the cost of research computing infrastructures

A major survey to understand the cost of European academic computing services was launched today. It is run by the e-FISCAL project, which is funded by the European Commission to estimate the cost of ‘e-Infrastructure’ computing services such as High Throughput and High Performance computing. These costs must be understood so that e-Infrastructures can show their value to the European research community and the benefits they bring over competing technologies. 

“The e-FISCAL project is contributing to a more accurate understanding of the costs of computing services,” said Dr. Per Öster, chair of the Council for the European Grid Infrastructure. “With this information we can make more accurate plans for the growth, development and sustainability of these infrastructures.”

The past decade has seen significant investments in High Performance Computing (HPC) and High Throughput or Grid Computing (HTC) by the European Commission and member states. These form a major part of the ‘e-Infrastructure,’ which supports European research in science, technology and the humanities. However, their costs are not easy to understand, as they are funded by a mixture of European, National, regional and subject-based funding.

The emergence of new commercial technologies such as Cloud computing, which can tackle similar problems to HTC, makes it important for Europe to clearly understand the costs of the e-Infrastructures it has built. The survey by e-FISCAL is an important step in this process, providing cost estimates and comparing them to the closest commercial leased and on-demand services, such as those offered by Amazon.

There are many methods for studying service costs, such as Total Cost of Ownership, but none are entirely appropriate for e-FISCAL’s study. Instead, e-FISCAL brought together several models to find a method that was detailed enough to give good results, but simple enough to make collecting the data easy for participants. The method provides an estimated Annual Cost of Ownership of e-Infrastructure for 2010 and 2011.

This survey builds on a survey conducted by a previous European Commission funded project, e-IRGSP2, as part of research into legal and governance issues around e-Infrastructures.

The survey can be found on-line or as an editable pdf document.
 

Counting the cost of research computing infrastructures

A major survey to understand the cost of European academic computing services was launched today. It is run by the e-FISCAL project, which is funded by the European Commission to estimate the cost of ‘e-Infrastructure’ computing services such as High Throughput and High Performance computing. These costs must be understood so that e-Infrastructures can show their value to the European research community and the benefits they bring over competing technologies. 

“The e-FISCAL project is contributing to a more accurate understanding of the costs of computing services,” said Dr. Per Öster, chair of the Council for the European Grid Infrastructure. “With this information we can make more accurate plans for the growth, development and sustainability of these infrastructures.”

The past decade has seen significant investments in High Performance Computing (HPC) and High Throughput or Grid Computing (HTC) by the European Commission and member states. These form a major part of the ‘e-Infrastructure,’ which supports European research in science, technology and the humanities. However, their costs are not easy to understand, as they are funded by a mixture of European, National, regional and subject-based funding.

The emergence of new commercial technologies such as Cloud computing, which can tackle similar problems to HTC, makes it important for Europe to clearly understand the costs of the e-Infrastructures it has built. The survey by e-FISCAL is an important step in this process, providing cost estimates and comparing them to the closest commercial leased and on-demand services, such as those offered by Amazon.

There are many methods for studying service costs, such as Total Cost of Ownership, but none are entirely appropriate for e-FISCAL’s study. Instead, e-FISCAL brought together several models to find a method that was detailed enough to give good results, but simple enough to make collecting the data easy for participants. The method provides an estimated Annual Cost of Ownership of e-Infrastructure for 2010 and 2011.

This survey builds on a survey conducted by a previous European Commission funded project, e-IRGSP2, as part of research into legal and governance issues around e-Infrastructures.

The survey can be found on-line or as an editable pdf document.
 

European Grid celebrates ten years

On the 11th of December 2001, the European DataGrid (EDG) project (one of EGI’s predecessors) announced at a meeting that a testbed of the first international grid infrastructure was up and running.

This pioneering grid integrated provided by four sites: Manchester University, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom, CERN, and CNAF site at Bologna. It wasn't long before they had company with CCIN2P3 in Lyon and NIKHEF in Amsterdam joining them within a week.

Ten years on, the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) is the world’s largest multidisciplinary grid infrastructure, giving researchers access to state-of-the-art computing facilities across more than 300 sites worldwide.

By late November 2001, the EDG project was only 11 months old and brought together a collection of loosely affiliated computing clusters that people could submit work to by hand. This allowed them to test some of the tools being developed by the project but it was not a real grid. A grid should enable access to distributed remote computational resources when needed by the user but remove the complexity of making the user choose what specific resources to use.

One of the projects involved in EDG was GridPP, the UK’s contribution to the worldwide effort providing computational resources to the LHC experiments. "We had actually done a lot in a very short period of time", explains David Britton, GridPP's project manager at the time, "We had gone from a plan for a proposal in December 2000 to a fully funded infrastructure project, within less than a year. Now EDG and ourselves were about to make the first big step towards a proper grid".

That step was pretty big though; they needed two very important components, an information system and a resource broker. By monitoring the state of the resources on the infrastructure, and taking into account a user’s requirements, these would allow a user to submit jobs "into the grid" and have them automatically routed to a suitable site.

The 11 December announcement was only a humble beginning. The entire system only consisted of 14 machines, Manchester's entire cluster was a single worker node. Andrew McNab from Manchester was part of the integration team that was involved in the work, "It was a pretty exciting time as we were motivated by the idea of connecting hundreds of sites to do computing in a new way. The Integration Team had come to CERN for a fortnight from all across Europe to make it work, and I found out that the CERN and CNAF/Bologna sites had gone live on the Sunday afternoon. I put the final pieces in place on the Manchester site and then late on Sunday night successfully submitted a job to the Broker service at CERN, the job was then run at Manchester. It was like seeing the World Wide Web in the early 1990s: it wasn't very big and things were very rough round the edges, but you knew the technology would scale up enormously and change the way everyone worked.".

In the intervening decade the grid has become indispensable to many communities, the LHC experiments would be lost without the 200,000 machines they can access to do their analysis.

European Grid celebrates ten years

On the 11th of December 2001, the European DataGrid (EDG) project (one of EGI’s predecessors) announced at a meeting that a testbed of the first international grid infrastructure was up and running.

This pioneering grid integrated provided by four sites: Manchester University, and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom, CERN, and CNAF site at Bologna. It wasn't long before they had company with CCIN2P3 in Lyon and NIKHEF in Amsterdam joining them within a week.

Ten years on, the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI) is the world’s largest multidisciplinary grid infrastructure, giving researchers access to state-of-the-art computing facilities across more than 300 sites worldwide.

By late November 2001, the EDG project was only 11 months old and brought together a collection of loosely affiliated computing clusters that people could submit work to by hand. This allowed them to test some of the tools being developed by the project but it was not a real grid. A grid should enable access to distributed remote computational resources when needed by the user but remove the complexity of making the user choose what specific resources to use.

One of the projects involved in EDG was GridPP, the UK’s contribution to the worldwide effort providing computational resources to the LHC experiments. "We had actually done a lot in a very short period of time", explains David Britton, GridPP's project manager at the time, "We had gone from a plan for a proposal in December 2000 to a fully funded infrastructure project, within less than a year. Now EDG and ourselves were about to make the first big step towards a proper grid".

That step was pretty big though; they needed two very important components, an information system and a resource broker. By monitoring the state of the resources on the infrastructure, and taking into account a user’s requirements, these would allow a user to submit jobs "into the grid" and have them automatically routed to a suitable site.

The 11 December announcement was only a humble beginning. The entire system only consisted of 14 machines, Manchester's entire cluster was a single worker node. Andrew McNab from Manchester was part of the integration team that was involved in the work, "It was a pretty exciting time as we were motivated by the idea of connecting hundreds of sites to do computing in a new way. The Integration Team had come to CERN for a fortnight from all across Europe to make it work, and I found out that the CERN and CNAF/Bologna sites had gone live on the Sunday afternoon. I put the final pieces in place on the Manchester site and then late on Sunday night successfully submitted a job to the Broker service at CERN, the job was then run at Manchester. It was like seeing the World Wide Web in the early 1990s: it wasn't very big and things were very rough round the edges, but you knew the technology would scale up enormously and change the way everyone worked.".

In the intervening decade the grid has become indispensable to many communities, the LHC experiments would be lost without the 200,000 machines they can access to do their analysis.

Season’s greetings

It's the season to be jolly and everyone at EGI.eu would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

View our festive e-card.

Seasons greetings Q R code

Scan the QR code to see the e-card on your mobile [enlarge]

And remember that our Mascot Competition closes on 31 December. Don't miss the chance to win a touch screen tablet computer and other goodies – make sure you submit your entry before the deadline! Remember that you may enter more than once, as long as entries are made in separate submissions.

Season’s greetings

It's the season to be jolly and everyone at EGI.eu would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

View our festive e-card.

Seasons greetings Q R code

Scan the QR code to see the e-card on your mobile [enlarge]

And remember that our Mascot Competition closes on 31 December. Don't miss the chance to win a touch screen tablet computer and other goodies – make sure you submit your entry before the deadline! Remember that you may enter more than once, as long as entries are made in separate submissions.

Funds awarded to the ELIXIR e-infrastructure

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) warmly welcome today’s announcement from the UK Government of a £75 million commitment from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Large Facilities Capital Fund (LFCF) for the ELIXIR research infrastructure.

ELIXIR is a pan-European effort to safeguard and foster data generated in life-science experiments. Its core objective is to ensure that Europe can continue to handle a rapidly growing volume and variety of data from high-throughput experiments such as DNA sequencing. Proper management of this information promotes knowledge-based economic growth, and facilitates the translation of research into innovations that meet global challenges in food security, energy and health.

The new funding will allow the construction of ELIXIR’s central hub at EMBL-EBI on the Wellcome Trust Genome campus in Hinxton, Cambridge. The hub will be the nerve centre for bioinformatics in Europe, coordinating the delivery of services and user training from several centres of excellence Europe-wide. The hub will also establish a robust computing infrastructure that can handle the rising tide of life science data.

“This commitment from the UK Government to ELIXIR emphasises the growing importance of biological information to every citizen,” said Professor Janet Thornton, Director of EMBL-EBI and coordinator of the preparatory phase of ELIXIR, which is funded under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme. “This funding puts Europe in a uniquely strong position to solve some of society’s most pressing problems, with the UK right in the middle of the action. In the future we expect similar commitments from ELIXIR’s members around Europe to build their nodes.”

Professor Søren Brunak of the Technical University of Denmark and Chair of the Interim ELIXIR Board said: “In the organisation of the ELIXIR bioinformatics infrastructure the hub is essential. In order for the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts we need strong coordination of activities across the different nodes in Europe. The decision to fund the construction of ELIXIR’s central hub is therefore a very important milestone in the development of the distributed infrastructure and we hope that ELIXIR members will in future contribute to its operation.”

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said: “Modern life science research has the potential to touch every one of our lives. But in order to support economic growth, new jobs and to improve our standards of living we need better ways to handle the unimaginable amount of data modern approaches generate. The collaborative and centrally accessible approach represented by ELIXIR is the most effective and efficient way for life scientists to store, manage, share and interpret information. Through ELIXIR, we are ensuring our researchers have access to the best infrastructure and services now and in the future. ELIXIR will help us maximise the outputs and impact of the UK’s world-leading life science research base.”

ELIXIR has the potential to enhance the development of Europe-based R&D business in fields ranging from pharmaceuticals to agriculture. Significant financial contributions towards the construction of ELIXIR nodes throughout Europe have already been made by Denmark, Finland, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The operational costs of the hub will be met by shared contributions from participating countries.
 

Funds awarded to the ELIXIR e-infrastructure

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) warmly welcome today’s announcement from the UK Government of a £75 million commitment from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Large Facilities Capital Fund (LFCF) for the ELIXIR research infrastructure.

ELIXIR is a pan-European effort to safeguard and foster data generated in life-science experiments. Its core objective is to ensure that Europe can continue to handle a rapidly growing volume and variety of data from high-throughput experiments such as DNA sequencing. Proper management of this information promotes knowledge-based economic growth, and facilitates the translation of research into innovations that meet global challenges in food security, energy and health.

The new funding will allow the construction of ELIXIR’s central hub at EMBL-EBI on the Wellcome Trust Genome campus in Hinxton, Cambridge. The hub will be the nerve centre for bioinformatics in Europe, coordinating the delivery of services and user training from several centres of excellence Europe-wide. The hub will also establish a robust computing infrastructure that can handle the rising tide of life science data.

“This commitment from the UK Government to ELIXIR emphasises the growing importance of biological information to every citizen,” said Professor Janet Thornton, Director of EMBL-EBI and coordinator of the preparatory phase of ELIXIR, which is funded under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme. “This funding puts Europe in a uniquely strong position to solve some of society’s most pressing problems, with the UK right in the middle of the action. In the future we expect similar commitments from ELIXIR’s members around Europe to build their nodes.”

Professor Søren Brunak of the Technical University of Denmark and Chair of the Interim ELIXIR Board said: “In the organisation of the ELIXIR bioinformatics infrastructure the hub is essential. In order for the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts we need strong coordination of activities across the different nodes in Europe. The decision to fund the construction of ELIXIR’s central hub is therefore a very important milestone in the development of the distributed infrastructure and we hope that ELIXIR members will in future contribute to its operation.”

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said: “Modern life science research has the potential to touch every one of our lives. But in order to support economic growth, new jobs and to improve our standards of living we need better ways to handle the unimaginable amount of data modern approaches generate. The collaborative and centrally accessible approach represented by ELIXIR is the most effective and efficient way for life scientists to store, manage, share and interpret information. Through ELIXIR, we are ensuring our researchers have access to the best infrastructure and services now and in the future. ELIXIR will help us maximise the outputs and impact of the UK’s world-leading life science research base.”

ELIXIR has the potential to enhance the development of Europe-based R&D business in fields ranging from pharmaceuticals to agriculture. Significant financial contributions towards the construction of ELIXIR nodes throughout Europe have already been made by Denmark, Finland, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The operational costs of the hub will be met by shared contributions from participating countries.
 

Registration for the Community Forum is now open

The registration for the EGI Community Forum 2012 is now open online at: http://go.egi.eu/registration-cf12.

The event will take place at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) in Garching near Munich, Germany (26-30 March 2012), hosted by EGI.eu in partnership with the Munich Network Management, a consortium of four German research institutions.

The Community Forum will be held in conjunction with the 2nd EMI Technical Conference and co-located with the 2nd Annual European Globus Community Forum (26 March).

The key goal of the Community Forum is to showcase the role that EGI plays in enabling innovation across the European Research Area. The forum will highlight the services, technologies and tools available to scientific communities to better support their research.

The organisers welcome developers of distributed computing applications & services and the research communities who make use of them to attend the event and find out more about the current state of the art and let your voice be heard to influence the strategy and plans for the future of the EGI community.

The deadline for early-bird registration at discounted rates is 15 February 2012.
 

Registration for the Community Forum is now open

The registration for the EGI Community Forum 2012 is now open online at: http://go.egi.eu/registration-cf12.

The event will take place at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) in Garching near Munich, Germany (26-30 March 2012), hosted by EGI.eu in partnership with the Munich Network Management, a consortium of four German research institutions.

The Community Forum will be held in conjunction with the 2nd EMI Technical Conference and co-located with the 2nd Annual European Globus Community Forum (26 March).

The key goal of the Community Forum is to showcase the role that EGI plays in enabling innovation across the European Research Area. The forum will highlight the services, technologies and tools available to scientific communities to better support their research.

The organisers welcome developers of distributed computing applications & services and the research communities who make use of them to attend the event and find out more about the current state of the art and let your voice be heard to influence the strategy and plans for the future of the EGI community.

The deadline for early-bird registration at discounted rates is 15 February 2012.