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is testing the Cloud Credits Model, the business model with which NIH operates Commons.
“We give you complete flexibility to run applications and store data on premises or on the cloud and migrate between the two.” —Jeff Tabor, sr. director of product management and marketing, Avere Systems
This model touches
all aspects of the architecture. Here’s how it works: NIH gives awards. People write grants for those awards that include a line item for computing costs. NIH officials don’t know how the money is spent on computing or the computing platform’s effectiveness. The idea with Commons is to give credit for computing instead of dollars.
A provider must agree to be Commons-compliant. Then investors can spend the credit on any compliant resource they want. Everything is measurable, so NIH has a better understanding of how compute resources are being used.
This model clearly supports the NIH goals of cost effectiveness and simplified data sharing, scalability, and democratized access to data and computational tools. It’s not without its cons, however. Potential disadvan- tages of this model include its novelty, as there is no baseline for success. It also assumes stable or declining prices among providers so users get more compute for their credit. It assumes a pay-as-you-go structure. If users stop paying, it could stop working.
Lastly, it depends on service providers wanting to invest in conformance requirements, although market research suggests that Commons will have three to five providers within three months of launching. Commons requires providers to meet certain requirements
for storage and compute capacity, authentication and authorization, networking and connectivity, and information assurance.
Industry Aid
To help with this undertaking and others, Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud solutions and Avere file
storage systems are at the ready. In order to meet the agility and scalability that projects the scope of Commons demand, cloud is the best platform, says Wilfred Justin, security and cloud architect at AWS.
“If you think about any kind of big data processing, you should be able to spin up many, many servers to get the job done,” says Justin. And you should also be able to do so without paying for what you don’t use.
AWS takes care of two things agencies struggle with using traditional information technology infrastructure. First, it handles capacity planning through Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). It abstracts the agency from capacity planning. AWS does it proactively and adds clusters on a day-to-day basis.
Also, AWS enables high-capacity computing. Instead of building a $20 million HPC system themselves, agencies can leverage the scalability of cloud to create a virtual machine to handle the same workloads for about $20,000, and it’s easy to
dismantle when it’s no longer needed.
Avere Systems’ file system tech- nology for the cloud works directly with the Amazon solutions. It’s optimized by Avere FXT Edge filers, which bridges the data center and the cloud. The physical FXT Edge filers provide a scalable, high-performance file system agencies can deploy along- side on-premises computing resources. “What that allows you to do is scale the performance of your applications,” says Jeff Tabor, sr. director of product management and marketing at Avere.
There’s also virtual FXT (vFXT), a software-only version of the product that runs in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. This acts as network-attached storage, which lets users move file-based applications to the cloud.
Avere’s solutions also help tackle challenges commonly associated with cloud. For instance, to combat latency, the company’s Edge-Core architecture performs caching to hide that latency. To bolster data protection, Avere provides cloud snapshots and data mirroring.
“Whether your need is moving data to the cloud for storage capacity or running your applications in compute clouds using data stored on-premises or on the cloud, we have a solution,” says Tabor.
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