REANNZ and IBM demo research-friendly cloud data-processing platform

A new cloud-based high performance computing platform which promises to accelerate data-intensive research for local scientists was demonstrated at the eResearch NZ conference last month in Queenstown.

The SoftLayer demo brought together IBM’s global cloud computing resources with Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand’s (REANNZ) research connectivity network, highlighting the benefits of New Zealand researchers accessing high performance supercomputing via the cloud.

REANNZ CEO Steve Cotter says the demo showed how New Zealand researchers could gain access to the same data-analysis computing power as overseas competitors.

“The new platform enables researchers to move huge data sets – petabytes at a time – and get the results very quickly,” he says.

“Supercomputers are, of course, a very scarce resource, so traditionally researchers would have to put their data on a disk, send it away, it would get processed and sent back, and the whole process would take a few weeks.”

“Now we can do the same process in a couple of hours. You can run your analysis multiple times, tweak your algorithms and refine your data, and that means [New Zealand researchers] could be more competitive.”

Cotter says researchers should be able to access world-class computing resources no matter where in the world those resources actually are.

“Changing the economics of high performance computing for New Zealand’s research community [will] allow more projects to be undertaken, enable faster delivery of results and simplify collaboration with international partners and customers,” he says.

“By removing the tyranny of distance, and speeding up the process, it will ultimately speed up commercialisation and will make it quicker to get products to market.”