Housed at Cambridge University, the ALaSKA SDP Performance Prototype
Platform has been quick to take advantage of the Big Data Cooperation
Agreement signed over the summer with CERN.
ALaSKA uses OpenStack to deliver a flexible but performant bare
metal compute enviroment to enable SKA project scientists to
experiment with and explore software technologies and make objective
The ALaSKA system uses several OpenStack technologies that are
already in full-scale production at CERN. Conversely, to develop
ALaSKA's capability some advanced technologies have been developed
by the StackHPC team managing ALaSKA. The CERN team have identified
several areas where ALaSKA's experience can inform the ongoing development
of CERN's compute infrastructure, particularly as they scale up to meet
the challenges of the forthcoming high-luminosity upgrade.
Following the collaboration, on several occasions through the autumn
CERN and SKA project staff have met to talk over the practical
details of sharing effort, and StackHPC's team was delighted to participate
in the discussions relating to OpenStack. These discussions led
to a co-presentation at OpenStack Sydney
by Stig and Belmiro Moreira, a Cloud Architect in
the team at CERN.
Stig will also be elaborating on the same topic at the
Research Councils UK Cloud Workshop 2018 at the
Francis Crick institute in London on 8th January 2018.
Beyond meeting the goals of major flagship science programmes,
this collaboration speaks to a wider unmet need among the
growing Scientific OpenStack community for OpenStack infrastructure
that enables the next generation of flexible HPC.
A number of key priorities have been identified so far:
- Using Ironic for infrastructure management.
- Better support for bare metal compute resources in Magnum.
- High performance Ceph, especially using RDMA-enabled interconnects.
- Intelligent worklaod scheduling in federated environments.
- Opportunistic "spot" instances and preemption in OpenStack.
Enter the Scientific SIG
The teams from CERN and the SKA see these issues as far from specific
to their use cases, and are certainly not the only people around the
world working on making OpenStack even better for research computing.
Through the Scientific SIG,
the teams are starting to coordinate activities between themselves, and
also with other research institutions active in the Scientific OpenStack
This open collaboration will be actively discussed during the Scientific SIG's
scheduled session at the Project Teams Gathering (PTG),
coming up in Dublin, February 26th - March 2nd 2018.