Science Clouds – driving responsive community-driven coordinated research infrastructure investment across Australia

Science Clouds – driving responsive community-driven coordinated research infrastructure investment across Australia
March 7, 2017 Karen Mecoles

“Science Clouds is an initiative designed to be targeted at and be responsive to research communities. Driven by the individual research communities, it will support national research priorities and address the needs of a broad cohort of researchers across three specific domains,” according to Mr Kheeran Dharmawardena, Science Clouds Project Coordinator.

Partnering with the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) domain capabilities, NeCTAR will establish three community-focused Science Cloud platforms:

  • Australian BioSciences Cloud;
  • Australian Marine Sciences Cloud; and
  • Australian Ecosystems Science Cloud.

“We’re putting research communities firmly in the drivers’ seat to deliver focused research infrastructure investment – shaped to meet unique domain-specific needs.”

Each Science Cloud will focus on 3 key initiatives – strategic investment, providing a discipline and domain community focus, and reducing barriers to doing research.

Science Clouds will leverage the NeCTAR Research Cloud Infrastructure and provide improved access to shared data, tools, platforms and computing resources – extending, upgrading and integrating existing infrastructure currently provided by NeCTAR, data storage facilitated by Research Data Services (RDS), research infrastructure for genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics provided by Bioplatforms Australia (BPA), Australia’s national observatory Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network () and Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS).

“Communities are ideally positioned to identify, and prioritise their infrastructure requirements. With Science Clouds, eResearch and NCRIS capabilities will have a stronger influence on the prioritisation of infrastructure investments – which will enable them to map out more longer-term strategic visions and provide a pathway for more strategic activities in the shorter term.”

Acknowledging that priorities, challenges and issues differ between domains, Science Clouds will enable deeper conversations regarding investment priorities between eInfrastructure providers and NCRIS domain capabilities.

Science Clouds provides a model that can respond to the changing needs of the specific research communities. Each Science Cloud will have the ability to shape infrastructure investments to meet their specific domain needs.

Science Clouds leverages concepts from existing community-focused initiatives such as the ELIXR distributed infrastructure for life sciences, CLIMB cyber-infrastructure for microbial bioinformatics, Cyverse data discovery, XSEDE extreme science and engineering discovery environment and Jetstream cloud-based computation addition to national cyberinfrastructure.

Engagement increases will occur at multiple levels, including within and between researchers, research support staff and developers. “There has always been strong demand for community involvement; Science Clouds will work to fill this need.”

From the researcher perspective, Science Clouds will provide a stable home for many of their needs including data and compute. “Science Clouds is not a one-size-fits-all solution – rather it will leverage knowledge, experience and capability to empower communities to drive tailored solutions based on their specific needs, values, activities and priorities.”

Effective research relies on collaboration and interoperability – and Science Clouds is an initiative that places research communities firmly in the drivers’ seat.

Want to learn more about Science Clouds? Please visit Science Clouds

by Loretta Davis.