Collaboration Awarded an NSF Grant of $5M to Create New Cloud Computing Testbed

Last month the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a significant grant to a team of researchers from Boston University, Northeastern University and UMass Amherst. The grant will support the development of a testbed for new cloud computing platforms that will enable data science research to expand and explore new areas of interest. The total award could reach a total of $5 million if fully funded after a review by the NSF in three years. The funding for Boston University is expected to total $2,050,000 over five years. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that promotes the progress of science: to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.


The BU Research Team

Orran Krieger
Martin Herbordt

Orran Krieger and Martin Herbordt, both professors of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at Boston University’s College of Engineering, lead the research group at Boston University. Professor Krieger is the Director of the Red Hat Collaboratory and the Mass Open Cloud (MOC), both initiatives housed at the BU Hariri Institute for Computing. His areas of interest include systems, cloud computing, operating systems, big data platforms, and distributed systems. Professor Herbordt is a past Faculty Fellow and Affiliate of the CRI Lab at the BU Hariri Institute for Computing. His areas of interest include computer systems and architecture, high-performance computing and applications using accelerators GPUs, FPGAs and reconfigurable computing, bioinformatics and computational biology. The MOC’s goal is to develop an open, production-quality cloud computing system that enables research and provides leading-edge services for scientific computing. Creating a two-sided marketplace, the MOC will allow multiple providers to compete on a level playing field.


“An important part of the MOC has always been to enable cloud computing research by the academic community”, says Krieger. “This project dramatically expands our ability to support researchers both by providing much richer capabilities and by expanding from a regional to a national community of researchers.”


New Technology for the Open Cloud

The NSF grant will enable the research team to grow and investigate new cloud technologies. These technologies will support applications that are used in other research focused on data science-related projects that require the processing and collection of large amounts of data during the life of the project. These cloud technologies will be efficient and accessible to different communities for them to utilize. Older open cloud providers are usually large and only available to a few researchers. This testbed, combined with the production cloud will allow a diverse community of researchers to utilize it, thus “democratizing” cloud-computing research. This, in turn, will enable increased collaboration and partnerships between the research and open-source communities. Additionally, the new testbed will combine software technologies with the Mass Open Cloud and will be enhanced with the new technologies that include Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA). As mentioned before, FPGA will support researchers in security and privacy, machine learning, bioinformatics, provide solutions faster, and process even greater amounts of data.

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