Chen, Xiaoyu, Wills, Gary, Gilbert, Lester and Bacigalupo, David
Using Cloud for Research: A Technical Review
The purpose of the TeciRes project was to conduct a technical review of the current landscape within cloud computing to establish the extent to which existing solutions meet encountered and envisioned requirements for using emerging cloud technologies, in particular those which enable computing and storage cloud facilities for research in Higher Education (HE) institutions, and to make recommendations on further development, guidance, and standardisation. The TeciRes project is one of three parallel projects funded by JISC, the other two complementary projects being a review of “using cloud computing” focusing on cloud use cases from users’ perspectives, and a review of “environmental and organisational” implications of cloud computing” in Higher Education (HE) and further education sectors. This project combined expert consultancy and desk research approaches. The project started with stakeholder analysis, case studies from HE institutions and research departments, and a close collaboration with the “using cloud for research” group, while paying particular attention to technical requirements and issues. The project team attended research conferences and organised workshops to enrich its understanding of technical requirements, challenges, available solutions, and ongoing technical research activities. Continuous desk research was ongoing throughout the project for information consolidation, reviewing available and emerging standards, and technical prototyping. This technical review and two guidance notes (cloud computing for research, technical issues on cloud computing for research) are available on the project website . During the course of the TeciRes project, the number of Cloud-related workshops and conferences, along with white papers and publications, has greatly risen. In part this shows the interest, both commercial and academically, of this field. The outputs from the project are a reflection of an extensive literature research focused on the issues that practitioners in the field are facing. Where possible the report tries to show how they have overcome these problems. There are still many questions unanswered, in part because cloud computing for research is still only a concept to many or has only been tried on a small scale. Recommendations Recommendation 1: JISC SHOULD continue support for proofs of concept of using cloud for research. Cloud computing is in its infancy; hence a number of proof of concept application are need in order to give a baseline understanding/measure from which to assess the usefulness of cloud computing for research. Recommendation 2: JISC SHOULD stimulate cloud-based shared service delivery. Various JISC committees have invested considerable time and resources in developing shared services in a non-cloud context. Hence there are a number of existing shared services in the Grid and VRE space that can be migrated to the cloud for research, and there are new services to be developed, including the need to provide management software for virtual machine images. This will allow Universities to explore the appropriateness of various cloud types and also their ‘green’ credentials. More detailed recommendations related to environmental issues can be found in the final report of review of the environmental and organisational implications of cloud computing in Higher and Further Education. Recommendation 3: JISC COULD work with international standard bodies, for instance Open Cloud Computing Interface, a working group in OGF, or similar non-grid organisations. This will require funding and efforts, however, on standards adoption through reference implementations. Recommendation 4: JISC COULD fund various cloud service facilities, particularly storage and data cloud facilities, to explore data security and privacy as highlighted areas of concern from practitioners and stakeholders. Funding projects in this area will allow researchers to provide alternative methods of sharing research data inside UK research communities, with enhanced security and data privacy. Recommendation 5: JISC MAY fund large scale institutional and cross institutional clouds for research. This could be informed by the work of the NGS cloud pilot project currently underway, with a view to providing cloud services on the NGS structure.
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