What the cloud *really* means for science

by Ian T. Foster, Director, CI, Distinguished Fellow, Argonne National Laboratory, IL, USA

Talk Abstract

We've all heard about how on-demand computing and storage will transform scientific practice. But by focusing on resources alone, we're missing the real benefit of the large-scale outsourcing and consequent economies of scale that cloud is about. The biggest IT challenge facing science today is not volume but complexity. Sure, terabytes demand new storage and computing solutions. But they're cheap. It is establishing and operating the processes required to collect, manage, analyze, share, archive, etc., that data that is killing creativity.

And that's where outsourcing can be transformative. I can run a small business from a coffee shop, outsourcing essentially every business function to a software-as-a-service provider--accounting, payroll, customer relationship management, the works. Why can't I run a research lab from a coffee shop? For that to happen, we need to make it easy for providers to develop "apps" that encapsulate useful capabilities and for researchers to discover, customize, and apply these "apps" in their work. The effect, I will argue, will be a dramatic acceleration of discovery.

 

About Ian Foster

Ian Foster is Director of the Computation Institute, a joint institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. He is also an Argonne Senior Scientist and Distinguished Fellow, Chan Soon-Shiong Scholar and the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science. Ian received a BSc (Hons I) degree from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and a PhD from Imperial College, United Kingdom, both in computer science. His research deals with distributed, parallel, and data-intensive computing technologies, and innovative applications of those technologies to scientific problems in such domains as climate change and biomedicine. Methods and software developed under his leadership underpin many large national and international cyberinfrastructures.

Dr. Foster is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the British Computer Society. His awards include the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) Next Generation award, the British Computer Society's Lovelace Medal, R&D Magazine's Innovator of the Year, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He was a co-founder of Univa UD, Inc., a company established to deliver grid and cloud computing solutions.








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