This article is published in the May 2021 issue.

National Discovery Cloud

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is pleased to announce the release of a new white paper,  A National Discovery Cloud: Preparing the US for Global Competitiveness in the New Era of 21st Century Digital Transformation, led by Ian Foster with significant support from Daniel Lopresti, Bill Gropp, Mark D. Hill, and Katie Schuman.

The three “pillars,” as the paper calls them, of this new computation fabric include the “emergence of public cloud utilities as a new computing platform; the ability to extract information from enormous quantities of data via machine learning; and the emergence of computational simulation as a research method on par with experimental science.”

In order for the US to stay competitive across a range of scientific and engineering disciplines, it must focus on research and education, the “two sectors that produce the innovations that power the future and prepare a workforce able to exploit those innovations,” as stated in the paper. New capabilities and leadership are also required. A National Discovery Cloud (NDC) is needed to sustain and accelerate innovation in digital technologies for the 21st Century. NDC will require the development and deployment of substantial new capabilities, such as the following:

  • The definition, creation, and curation of large reference datasets to fuel new data-driven models of the natural world, economy, human physiology, healthcare system, manufacturing processes, etc.
  • A discovery cloud platform to enable the collaborative development of value-added services that support NDC-powered scholarship and education.
  • New educational programs and curricula to prepare a generation for whom programming and using discovery cloud capabilities is second nature.
  • Substantial computing, storage, and network resources to host and compute over enormous datasets and to host and operate discovery cloud services that enhance the value of datasets.
  • Privacy and security designed in from the beginning, rather than added post facto, and with integrated assurances and audit capabilities so that the NDC advances rather than hinders computing in the public interest.

There are many questions that will need to be considered as an NDC is established, such as how to enable staged design and the evolution of different components. Please see the white paper here for more details including the steps that need to be taken to develop and deploy an NDC.

National Discovery Cloud