A Common Cloud Platform for STFC Science

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Physics


STFC supports science programmes in the areas of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Nuclear Physics, Particle Physics and Solar System science, and supports the national analytic science facilities including the Diamond Light Source, ISIS, and the Central Laser Facility. These science programmes and facilities activities are all data intensive, requiring very large capacity computing and data handling facilities connected by a high performance network to other global facilities (collectively called the e-Infrastructure).

In this proposal, we request £1.5M of funding to support a set of work packages which will deliver progress towards the development the STFC
e-Infrastructure in three key areas:
-Cloud infrastructure development
-Software ecosystem development
-Data exploitation in a shared environment

The facility we will create will augment existing well proven and effective e-Infrastructures, and be made available to all science areas within STFC supported by the Programmes Directorate and the STFC Scientific Computing Department.
The facility will also allow us to build concrete links with other RCUK research areas, and to participate further in the development of a National e-Infrastructure (NeI) for research.

Planned Impact

The impact is fully described in the pathways to impact annex.

In summary the e-Infrastructure, including software infrastructure, will

- Provide badly needed additional resources for all STFC data intensive science communities undertaking science supported by PPAN and the National Facilities, thus enabling more science output.

- Address the STFC need to harmonise computing across STFC as called for by its Computing Strategy.

- Pilot engagement with UK industry in the provision of cloud based resources.

- Aid STFC in its need to move towards a National e-Infrastructure for research across Research Councils.


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Description This award was for the establishment of compute resources and the development of digital assets at the University of Cambridge as part of a new national infrastructure - IRIS. The key output of this element of the overall work was delivery of digital assets via the company StackHPC in collaboration with University academic partners - these assets now form a key element of the national infrastructure
Exploitation Route This award was to support a new national infrastructure IRIS to be used by the widest elements of the UK STFC-based research community. The project is highly successful and i now regularly used by a growing user community.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

Description The digital assets created during this work have applicability outside the scope of the project and delivery of this impact is being undertaken by StackHPC who co-developed the assets
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Economic

Title Scientific OpenStack 
Description The software has been developed as part of the SKA Science Data Processor Platform. It adds new functionality to the OpenStack platform to enable high performance workflows and other monitoring. The software has been added back into the main OpenStack repository for general use. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact This software has wide applicability outside of radio astronomy and the SKA project for which it is developed and at least one company, StackHPC are taking this forward in a commercial context 
URL http://ska-sdp.org
Company Name STACKHPC LTD 
Description This is a software company formed in part by industry professionals including ex-Cray staff to meet the needs of the SKA. Further market opportunities in providing software solutions using OpenStack in data intensive and high performance computing environments have followed. Know-how and IP (in public domain) funded rom the SKA project and co-developed with the academic partners forms the basis for much of the company's work. 
Year Established 2016 
Impact StackHP has grown to about 18 staff in three years and is well placed to secure substantial return from SKA construction contracts