Continuing the Mission to Democratize ACCESS to Cyberinfrastructure

Science and engineering research and education depend on a complex and distributed ecosystem of cyberinfrastructure (CI). This ecosystem is made up of research labs, campuses and national resources. In an effort to support this evolving and expanding environment, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has initiated its new $52 million Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Coordination Ecosystem: Services & Support (ACCESS) program.

As prescribed in NSF’s Transforming Science through Cyberinfrastructure Blueprint, this evolving system needs a governance model that is forward-looking and guarantees highly reliable systems and services that the STEM community depends upon. At the same time, the model requires flexibility and structures to adapt as the ecosystem and community continues to evolve. ACCESS will help achieve this through a set of distinct service tracks and an ACCESS Coordination Office (ACO) to assist the multiple service tracks with governance, communications and evaluation.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), a national leader in high-performance supercomputing and data science, will apply its resources and expertise to the project. With long-time collaborators the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, SDSC will collectively operate the $5 million project—Open CI Ecosystem to Advance Scientific Discovery (OpenCI)—specifically the ACO.

The ACO team includes SDSC’s Deputy Director Shawn Strande, ACO Principal Investigator (PI) John Towns (NCSA), Co-PI Lizanne DeStefano (Georgia Tech) and other team members.

“OpenCI will foster an environment for the ACCESS program where shared governance and horizontal leadership create an inclusive and vibrant CI ecosystem in which service track PIs work with common purpose through well-defined decision-making processes, transparency in communication and a singular focus on enabling science,” said Strande, co-PI for ACCESS.

As a sub awardee, SDSC will help manage the ACO over a five-year period, from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2027, with funding of $1.25 million. SDSC also will play a vital role in the development and facilitation of the ACCESS External Advisory Board, development and  publication of science communication pieces and external evaluation of the ACO itself.

SDSC is also a partner on a second $20 million award led by Amy Schuele at NCSA, the COre National Ecosystem for CyberinfrasTructure (CONECT), which will provide SDSC with $1.4 million over its five-year duration. This project encompasses operations and integration services for one of the service tracks.

“SDSC will contribute in two main areas,” says Robert Sinkovits, CONECT subaward PI and SDSC’s director of education and training. “Cybersecurity expert Scott Sakai will play a key role in risk management, federated intelligence sharing and CONECT authentication strategies. Tom Hutton, a highly experienced networking engineer who is widely known for his work on SCINet, the high-performance network built each year for the SC conference, will support CONECT’s efforts in application metrics along with networking resources and tools. Tom will also be responsible for mentoring a junior network engineer.”

Other partners in CONECT are Florida International University, Indiana University, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) and the University of Chicago.

SDSC’s role extends further to a third award for a $10 million project led by the University at Buffalo (UB) to provide monitoring and measurement services using their software program called XD Metrics on Demand (XDMoD), which is used widely in academia, industry and government agencies to manage high-performance computing infrastructure.

“Our role in this proposal is to help integrate public cloud monitoring data from the NSF CloudBank project into XDMoD’s analytical tools, which will help provide a more comprehensive view of the nation’s cyberinfrastructure ecosystem and better facilitate planning,” said Shava Smallen, computational and data research specialist at SDSC and Co-PI of the NSF CloudBank project.

Thomas Furlani, PI for the project and chief information officer at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as research associate professor of biomedical informatics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, will coordinate the work of partners at SDSC, Case Western Reserve University, Indiana University, the University of Texas at Austin and Tufts University.

ACCESS is the next-generation system to the NSF’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), a single virtual system established in 2011, which will transition to ACCESS in early September 2022. XSEDE connects U.S. scientists to supercomputer resources and services nationwide, transforming scientific exploration by putting increasingly powerful machines at the disposal of new communities of investigators.

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