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Jetstream, first NSF-supported cloud infrastructure for science & engineering research, to launch September 1

User-friendly system will empower researchers who previously lacked access to high performance computing resources

MIAMI, Fla.—Good news for US researchers working with big data: Starting September 1, they’ll have access to Jetstream, the first National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported cloud resource for science and engineering research.

Jetstream partners announced the September 1 date for the system to go into full operation at the XSEDE16 Conference in Miami, Fla., this week. Indiana University’s Pervasive Technology Institute is the lead institution on the five-year, $11 million NSF grant to create, implement and operate Jetstream.

Designed to be accessible and approachable to a wide range of researchers, Jetstream is the first of its kind supported by NSF: a cloud-based, on-demand system for 24/7 access to computing and data analysis tools that are integrated into the national research ecosystem.

"Jetstream demonstrates the use of cloud computing to expand access to high performance computing resources, tools, and services, which are increasingly vital in advancing scientific discovery and innovation," said Irene Qualters, head of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at NSF. "Today’s researchers and educators require easy access to a rich portfolio of computing and data-intensive resources, tools and expertise to advance science and engineering frontiers. Jetstream users will benefit from cloud capabilities which are integrated into the national research infrastructure."

Thanks to Jetstream, scientists and researchers will be able to tap into the power of high performance computing quickly and easily, via a laptop, tablet or desktop computer, said Jetstream principal investigator Craig Stewart, executive director of the Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute.

VIDEO: Learn more about Jetstream

In fact, researchers and students interact with the system through a menu of virtual machines. By speeding discovery of applicable virtual machines, Jetstream will support research in many fields—particularly life sciences, genomics, physics, chemistry, and bioinformatics.

Stewart noted that the biological research community has been the first to take advantage of Jetstream. Going into production, the Jetstream partners plan to focus on engagement with other communities, for example, engineering schools, small schools, minority-serving institutions, and state schools with limited computing facilities.

For field biologists Marlis Douglas and Michael Douglas at the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville), Jetstream is an important tool in their research on biodiversity conservation. Most of the species they study are rare, threatened or endangered, and their findings inform water conservation and water use decisions in the western US. With Jetstream, the Douglas lab researchers can complete computationally intensive work involving millions of iterations—helping humans co-exist with a healthy and sustainable global environment.

Jetstream will also allow creators of new research software to make those tools easily available to potential users, speeding their adoption. As such, Jetstream will be a new experience for the user community.

"The most important part of Jetstream is its usability," said co-principal investigator Matthew Vaughan, director of Life Sciences Computing at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. "Researchers will be able to log in to the system, choose a virtual machine image that has the software and the environment they need, launch that virtual machine and be up and productive, analyzing and interpreting their data in a matter of minutes."

An intense testing and approval phase confirmed Jetstream’s software tools are valuable to the user community. During the early operations phase, Jetstream was used by more than 1,000 people to perform scientific research in diverse fields like genomics and field biology, psychology, computer and computational science.

As part of a focus particularly on engineering, MATLAB, a numerical computing tool, has been licensed for use on Jetstream along with 50 MATLAB toolboxes. Further outreach will take place via the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE).

To learn more about Jetstream and to sign up for an account, go to http://jetstream-cloud.org.

If you have particular software needs or have questions, click “Get help” on the web page or email: help@jetstream-cloud.org.

This material is based upon work supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Award 1445604, “High Performance Computing System Acquisition: Jetstream—A Self-Provisioned, Scalable Science and Engineering Cloud Environment.”

Partners funded by NSF to operate Jetstream include the Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute; University of Texas at Austin Texas Advanced Computing Center; University of Arizona; University of Chicago Computation Institute; Johns Hopkins University, the University of Texas at San Antonio; and Cornell University. Collaborating partners are Jackson State University, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Odum Institute at the University of North Carolina, and the University of Hawai’i. Vendor partners include Dell Inc. and the Mathworks.

The Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) has also supported Jetstream implementation and related activities. PTI is supported by Indiana University and has received major support from the Lilly Endowment Inc.