Page 9 - Campus Technology, June 2017
P. 9

john k. waters
Shadow HPC Moves to the Cloud
Providers such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft are luring college and university researchers to bypass IT for cloud-based high-performance computing resources.
SHADOW IT IS NOT a new phenomenon among college and university researchers, but the practice of using software and services not officially supported by a school’s IT department is moving to the cloud. The instant access to elastic and virtually unlimited compute and storage resources — promoted by cloud providers such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft — is luring academic researchers and reigniting a long smoldering argument about how best to deal with these pockets of unsanctioned tech.
“It’s true that shadow IT is not new, but it has morphed,” said Erik Deumens, research computing director at the University of Florida, a large public research university in Gainesville. “We’ve always had the cluster in the closet, so to speak, and we still have some of those, but the cloud has really changed things. Today, anything you want to do, you can do in the cloud, and it offers a kind of instant gratification and nimbleness that is very good for research.”
Another change: The cloud providers are marketing their offerings directly to academic researchers. Amazon’s AWS Research Cloud Program promises to help them to “focus on science, not servers.” Microsoft’s Azure 4 Research program claims that its cloud platform “can help with almost any research computing task.” Google sees itself as a supporter and participant in the academic research community, and promotes programs that provide funding for academic research enabled by the Google Cloud Platform.
These are effective pitches, and they’re getting researchers’ attention for obvious reasons: fast deployments and no university bureaucracy, said Patrick Mungovan, VP of Oracle’s Higher Education, Research and Academic Medical Center Technology Sales group.
“If you look at what cloud does, it can be an incredible enabler for university researchers,” he said. “The types of research we’re seeing these days cross a variety of

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