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Learning From Clouds Past: A Look Back at Magellan

HPC in the Cloud (01/31/12) Tiffany Trader

The Magellan project was launched to assess the potential role cloud computing could play in addressing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s computing requirements, especially those associated with fulfilling the needs of midrange computing and future data-intensive computing tasks. The project, which was discontinued after two years, found that scientific applications possess special requirements that demand customized cloud solutions, while applications with minimal communication and input/output are most appropriate for clouds. In addition, the project found that substantial programming and system administration support is required for clouds, and current open source virtualized cloud software stacks for production science use have significant challenges and gaps. The assessment’s conclusions point to cloud technology being unable to measure up to a centralized supercomputer in many respects, but the delivery model still has practical applications. Cloud computing stands out particularly in terms of flexibility and responsiveness for certain workloads. Ultimately, cloud computing is a business model, according to the authors of a report on the Magellan project sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research. The report says cloud services can complement, but not substitute for, centralized computing resources.