The Client+Cloud: Changing the Paradigm for Scientific Research

by Dennis Gannon, Director of Engagements, eXtreme Computing Group; Microsoft Research

Talk Abstract

Cloud computing is now part of everyday life.  We use cloud infrastructure to search the web, to store our files and to manage our e-mail and connect to our social networks.   We even use it to translate text from one language to another.   The cloud is the critical back-end to our most valued cell phone applications.   While cloud-based applications have had a profound impact on our personal life, there had been little change in the way scholars go about their research.  However, several factors are about to cause a paradigm shift in the way scientists and engineers go about their work.   The most significant forcing function of change is the arrival of the data tsunami.   In many fields, data driven science, often referred to as the 4th paradigm of science, is now the leading edge of advanced research. 

However, the majority of researchers do not have access to the emerging petabyte collections that are the new sources of scientific discovery.   While a few have campus resources and laboratory clusters, most are saddled with doing limited analysis on small data collections on their desktop machines.   Furthermore, most researchers do not want to manage infrastructure or learn to use supercomputers.   They want to do science.   In this talk we will argue that client-side applications that are intimately tied to advanced cloud-based data analysis tools and multi-petabyte, shared data collections will change the landscape for researchers.   We will discuss a vision for cloud-based data analytics that starts with MapReduce-based tools, but extends to a host of other scalable applications.



About Dennis Gannon

Dr. Dennis Gannon is Director of Engagements for the eXtreme Computing Group in Microsoft Research led by Dan Reed.   Prior to coming to Microsoft, Dr. Gannon was a professor of Computer Science at Indiana University and the Science Director for the Indiana Pervasive Technology Labs.  Dr. Gannon's research interests include cloud computing, large-scale cyberinfrastructure, programming systems and tools, distributed computing, computer networks, parallel programming, computational science, problem solving environments. He led the DARPA HPC++ project and he was one of the architects of the Department of Energy SciDAC Common Software Component Architecture (CCA) project. He was a partner in the NSF Computational Cosmology Grand Challenge project and the NCSA Alliance and he was heavily involved in the NSF TeraGrid and the Global Grid Forum (now the Open Grid Forum).  He was also a co-pi on the NSF LEAD project which built cyberinfrastructure for dynamic, adaptive weather prediction for severe storms like tornadoes and hurricanes. 


Gannon has published over 100 refereed articles and he has co-edited 3 books.  He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign after receiving a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California, Davis.








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