Last week, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) announced a new effort – Mid-Scale Infrastructure (NSFCloud) – under its CISE Research Infrastructure (CRI) program, seeking to support research infrastructure that enables the academic research community to develop and experiment with novel cloud architectures addressing emerging challenges, including real-time and high-confidence systems. This solicitation integrates discussions of a subcommittee of the CISE Advisory Committee focused on Mid-Scale Infrastructure over the last year, as well as white papers generated in response to a call by the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) this past spring. Later this month, CISE will hold an informational webinar to describe the goals of NSFCloud and answer any questions that prospective PIs may have.
In recent years, cloud computing in various forms has rapidly become the dominant method of providing computing infrastructure for Internet services. Through the use of virtualization, multi-tenancy, and various service models, even small companies are able to quickly create and scale web and mobile applications. Many businesses today could not exist without the availability of cloud computing. The success of the cloud computation model is also changing network architectures. Access network providers are moving toward providing edge infrastructure that exploits virtualization, allowing for innovative ways of offering data, communication, and computation with an approach highly tuned to support new distributed and mobile applications. While most of the original innovations supporting cloud computing came from the academic community, much of the recent innovation in cloud architectures has been driven by industry because of the infrastructure requirements. Academic researchers are now considering a new generation of innovative applications of cloud computing and cloud computing architectures, including time- and safety-critical cyber-physical applications for medical devices, power grid, and transportation, which require advances beyond the directions industry is pursuing.
This solicitation comprises a long-term and comprehensive program seeking infrastructure that will specifically enable the academic research community to (a) develop and experiment with novel cloud architectures and (b) pursue architecturally-enabled novel applications of cloud computing.
NSFCloud aims to build upon CISE’s existing investments in infrastructure, particularly networking research infrastructure, that have demonstrated the value of developing and using shared infrastructure for accelerating research and education. As noted in the solicitation:
[We] seek proposals for research infrastructure that build upon existing investments as well as the recent rapid growth in cloud computing, and enable the academic research community to develop and experiment with novel cloud and cloud-like architectures that can support a diversity of innovative applications. We also seek to facilitate interactions between the broader academic community as well as industry, including cloud computing researchers, the high-performance computing community, and cyber-physical systems researchers. In the long run, the goal is that such community infrastructure will enable exploration of resource sharing in clustered computing, virtualization with software-defined networking technologies, quality of service guarantees, and the interplay among applications, cloud computing architectures, and the physical environment. It will be available across a spectrum of configurations. The infrastructure will further support research both into the design, provisioning, and management of a reliable, persistent, real-time cloud architecture, as well as into the design and deployment of large-scale distributed services and applications that use such an environment. Ultimately, the research infrastructure will enable researchers to go beyond the use of existing commercial cloud offerings, allowing them to influence such offerings in the future.
Importantly, CISE anticipates two phases of activity for NSFCloud. The solicitation issued today enables Phase I, which will support required infrastructure design and ramp-up activities, as well as demonstration of readiness for full-fledged execution. An anticipated future solicitation will enable Phase II, during which funded infrastructure is expected to become fully staffed and operational, fulfilling the proposed mission of serving as a testbed that is used extensively by the research community.
While this effort is focused on infrastructure building and operating activities, NSF anticipates future support for research projects using these facilities. Consequently, proposals responsive to this solicitation should address how different NSF research communities will interface with, and leverage, the proposed facilities.
In Phase I, CISE anticipates awarding two Cooperative Agreements totaling up to $20 million over four years, subject to the availability of funds.
The Mid-Scale Infrastructure funding opportunity will be described in detail at a webinar to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 11am EDT. To attend the webinar:
Please register at https://nsfevents.webex.com/nsfevents/onstage/g.php?d=279693371&t=a by 11:59pm EDT on Monday, September 23, 2013.
After your registration is accepted, you will receive an email with a URL to join the meeting. Please be sure to join a few minutes before the start of the webinar. This system does not establish a voice connection on your computer; instead, your acceptance message will have a toll-free phone number that you will be prompted to call after joining. Please note that this registration is a manual process; therefore, do not expect an immediate acceptance. In the event the number of requests exceeds the capacity, some requests may have to be denied.
The webinar will be archived for later viewing and linked to the NSFCloud program web page at http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504951. The archived version will be available within a few days after the webinar.