Rice University Researchers to Conduct Studies With Cloud Computing

Computer servers
Cloud computing has come a long way since 2009, when the U.S. government became one of the first proponents of this technology with the Cloud First Policy.

Now, Rice University, one of the country’s top universities for research, is embracing cloud computing technology by installing the Big Research Data Cloud (BiRD Cloud), which will allow its researchers to compute in the cloud more easily.

According to a Nov. 24 RandD Magazine article, BiRD Cloud will allow researchers virtually unlimited storage for tasks that involve big data. Big data is a term that refers to collections of information that require a supercomputer’s storage and processing power to process because of their size.

Examples of research projects that deal with big data include computer models of genomes, weather patterns, astrophysics, medical data and a huge variety of other areas of study, the magazine reports.

“[BiRD Cloud] will be a great resource for fitting statistical and machine-learning models to big data with massive numbers of variables,” neuroscientist Genevera Allen, Rice’s Dobelman Family Junior Chair of Statistics and an assistant professor of statistics and electrical and computer engineering, told RandD Magazine. “Such tasks require large amounts of computer memory and typically run on single nodes.”

Rice expects BiRD Cloud to be available for use by all its researchers by April 2015. Overall, BiRD Cloud will provide 29.3 teraflops of peak computing power. The university expects this system to meet researchers’ needs for greater information capacity that its existing computer systems aren’t always able to meet, according to RandD Magazine.

“Research will no longer be confined to the size of Rice’s shared computing infrastructure,” said Jan Odegard, executive director of the Ken Kennedy Institute. “Instead, BiRD Cloud will supply access to boundless computing resources from commercial providers like Google and Amazon, and access to such national resources as XSEDE’s cloud resources.”

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