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

Aug. 17, 2016

Good news for U.S. researchers working with big data: Starting Sept. 1, they’ll have access to Jetstream, the first National Science Foundation-supported cloud resource for science and engineering research.

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Starting Sept. 1, U.S. researchers will be able to access to Jetstream, the first National Science Foundation-supported cloud resource for science and engineering research.

Jetstream partners announced the Sept. 1 date for the system to go into full operation at the XSEDE16 Conference in Miami, Fla., recently. IU’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 IU Pervasive Technology Institute.

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.

IU's access to Jetstream aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including catalyzing research and celebrating a community of scholars.

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