Collaboratively Architecting a Scalable and Adaptable Petascale Infrastructure to Support Transdisciplinary Scientific Research for the Australian Earth and Environmental Sciences

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 5:05 PM
Lesley A Wyborn1, Ben James Kingston Evans2, Tim Pugh3, David Tondl Lescinsky4, Clinton Foster1 and Alf Uhlherr5, (1)Geoscience Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia, (2)Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia, (3)Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Australia, (4)Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia, (5)Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - CSIRO, Clayton, Australia
The National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) at the Australian National University (ANU) is a partnership between CSIRO, ANU, Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and Geoscience Australia. Recent investments in a 1.2 PFlop Supercomputer (Raijin), ~ 20 PB data storage using Lustre filesystems and a 3000 core high performance cloud have created a hybrid platform for higher performance computing and data-intensive science to enable large scale earth and climate systems modelling and analysis. There are > 3000 users actively logging in and > 600 projects on the NCI system.

Efficiently scaling and adapting data and software systems to petascale infrastructures requires the collaborative development of an architecture that is designed, programmed and operated to enable users to interactively invoke different forms of in-situ computation over complex and large scale data collections.

NCI makes available major and long tail data collections from both the government and research sectors based on six themes: 1) weather, climate and earth system science model simulations, 2) marine and earth observations, 3) geosciences, 4) terrestrial ecosystems, 5) water and hydrology and 6) astronomy, bio and social. Collectively they span the lithosphere, crust, biosphere, hydrosphere, troposphere, and stratosphere.

Collections are the operational form for data management and access. Similar data types from individual custodians are managed cohesively. Use of international standards for discovery and interoperability allow complex interactions within and between the collections. This design facilitates a transdisciplinary approach to research and enables a shift from small scale, ‘stove-piped’ science efforts to large scale, collaborative systems science.

This new and complex infrastructure requires a move to shared, globally trusted software frameworks that can be maintained and updated. Workflow engines become essential and need to integrate provenance, versioning, traceability, repeatability and publication. There are also human resource challenges as highly skilled HPC/HPD specialists, specialist programmers, and data scientists are required whose skills can support scaling to the new paradigm of effective and efficient data-intensive earth science analytics on petascale, and soon to be exascale systems.