Cloud essential to R&D in Australia: NICTA

The Cloud will enable researchers to process the data "explosion"

Australia’s research and development industry must look to Cloud computing technology in the future in order to successfully handle the “explosion” of data and the need for computation.

National ICT Australia (NICTA) principal research leader, Dr. Anna Liu, told Computerworld Australia the Cloud gives the organisation access to compute and storage resources at an unprecedented scale such that the organisation has not been able to previously conduct science experiments.

“The ability to process literally billions and billions of records of data at a very short completion time means we can conduct science experiments in particular domains that we haven’t been able to do so before,” Liu said.

According to Liu, the technology will benefit all domains that require large scale data processing, including e-health, transport, logistics, and financial services.

“Cloud computing is absolutely essential to research in Australia, and very central to a lot of the application domains,” Liu said. “The other value of cloud computing is we can use it right now, we do not necessarily have to spend a lot of time to secure a large infrastructure grant in order to build up our own compute clusters and then to do science experiments with it. Then to endure 12 to 18 months of start up costs and probably lots of money in infrastructure setup as well before the scientist can actually get their hands onto the computation machines. With Cloud we can now pay per user and immediately do it.”

Liu’s comments follow the announced partnership between Microsoft and NICTA, the Australian National University (ANU) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), to provide the organisations with three years of free access to Microsoft’s Windows Azure Cloud computing technology, in addition to technical support and client tools.

The announcement was made at an event in Sydney today, where Microsoft Research director of eXtreme Computing Group, Dr. Dennis Gannon, explained why the Cloud is so essential to researchers.

“What we need to do, is let scientists be scientists, they don’t want to be system administrators, they want to focus on the science and be able to access very large amounts of data and the tools to analyse that data in easy ways, and they want to be able to do it from their desktop,” he said.

The real challenge for scientists today, Gannon says, is the need to be able to do what they’ve always done on their desktop, but with 10,000 times the capacity than before.

CSIRO’s ICT centre director, Dr. Ian Oppermann, said the combination of computational requirements and data represents scales and orders of magnitude which the organisation has never had to deal with before.

“There is an absolutely insatiable appetite for computing resources and for storage resources and until recently I’d never heard that we are generating data faster than we can actually manufacturer devices to store it, that’s a new phenomenon,” Oppermann said.

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAu

Tags CSIRONational ICT Australia (NICTA)e-healthcloud computing

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