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Indiana U Sets Up Secure Community Research Cloud

A consortium of universities will be using a cloud-based high performance computing system based in secure premises. A partnership between Indiana University and HPC vendor Penguin Computing will help researchers get around concerns about where the shared equipment delivering their services is kept.

In this case, POD IU (for Penguin Computing on Demand), as the service is called, will be maintained in a secure data center in the United States run by Indiana U. (The same cluster goes by the name of Rockhopper on campus.) The computers will be owned by Penguin. That data center is built to withstand a category 5 tornado; 24-hour security will be provided by the university's Global Research Network Operations Center.

The first institutional users besides Indiana U are the University of Virginia; University of California, Berkeley; and University of Michigan. Other schools and federally funded research centers can also purchase computing time from Penguin. Access will be provided through the high-speed national research networks operated by Indiana U.

"This is a great example of a community cloud service," said Brad Wheeler, Indiana U's CIO and vice president for IT. "By working together in a productive private-public partnership, we can achieve cost savings through larger scale while also ensuring security and managing the terms of service in the interests of researchers."

The computer cluster consists of Penguin's Computing Altus 1804 system with 11 computing, two login, four management, and three server nodes. Each CPU node is outfitted with four 12-core AMD Opteron 6172 processors and 128 GB of memory. The cluster's sandbox storage is 100 TB.

The service charges $0.12 per core hour. As an example, according to Penguin, a job that uses 64 cores for 30 minutes equates to 64 x $0.12 x 0.5 hours for a total of $3.84. There are additional charges for on-demand storage and data transfer from disk.

New higher ed customers can sign on with a credit card at podiu.penguincomputing.com.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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