CloudBank’s mission is to help higher education to access public cloud services as efficiently as possible. As an initiative created by University of California at San Diego, it builds upon the success of a cloud procurement partnership with Strategic Blue. CloudBank extends the optimal cloud procurement capabilities delivered by Strategic Blue, with a university-led on-boarding, support and account management model. CloudBank’s approach is tailored specifically for Research and Enterprise IT cloud users at higher education institutions in the US. Further reinforcing the researcher-to-researcher support model, UC San Diego has partnered with University of Washington and UC Berkeley to leverage the approaches to cloud management that they have pioneered for their own purposes, so that other universities can benefit from their successful innovation.
Dr Vince Kellen, CIO at UC San Diego, says, “Strategic Blue’s approach to managed cloud procurement is clearly beneficial to any cloud customer who wants to benefit from preferential terms that are not directly available under the major cloud providers’ standard pricing models. By collaborating with CloudBank, Strategic Blue is bridging the gap, at scale, for how US universities want to purchase cloud services for both their research and enterprise IT workloads. “Enabled by Strategic Blue, CloudBank will provide innovative financial options that will give researchers more flexible cloud terms tailored for their needs and contribute to the sustainability of CloudBank operations.”
CloudBank, underpinned by a long-term deal with Strategic Blue as its multi-cloud reseller, competed for, and won, the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Cloud Access solicitation This $5 million award funds CloudBank’s outreach program over the next 5 years, focussed initial on computer science researchers. The intent is for the component of future NSF funding awarded to US computer science researchers for the purchase of public cloud resources to be directed through CloudBank and thence Strategic Blue, who will ensure that the NSF’s research dollar is spent as efficiently as possible.
CloudBank will support the full spectrum of cloud users, from early-stage to advanced, providing on-ramp support that reduces researcher cloud adoption pain points, including managing costs, translating and upgrading research computing environments to appropriate cloud platforms, and learning cloud-based technologies that accelerate and expand research and education.
“The CloudBank pilot will significantly advance the use of cloud computing resources in computer and information science and engineering research and education,” said Jim Kurose, an assistant director for computer and information science and engineering at the NSF. “The close collaboration between the CloudBank project, public cloud computing providers, researchers and students will enable research and education, while also providing a unique opportunity to develop and study a new model of public/private partnership in the service of the scientific enterprise.”
“We are excited to be a partner in this initiative that democratizes cloud technology for research and education,” said David Culler professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley, and CloudBank co-PI. “It will enable a robust and scalable infrastructure across a diverse range of institutions and settings.”
“Public cloud has become an essential resource for computer science research and education, but with the rapid growth in the diversity of resource offerings, users increasingly encounter pain points to adoption that limit the potential of these resources in their work,” said Michael Norman, principal investigator of CloudBank and director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center. “CloudBank will address these pain points by providing ‘on-ramp’ support that helps researchers overcome challenges such as managing cost, translating and upgrading research computing environments to an appropriate cloud platform, and learning cloud-based technologies that accelerate and expand research.
Strategic Blue CEO, Dr James Mitchell, commented, “We’re honoured to have been selected by these leading US research institutions to help them support their peers in embracing the potential of public cloud for research and education. We’ve been working with UC San Diego for a long time now, on optimising our financially focussed cloud resale offerings for the US research sector, and the selection of CloudBank by NSF is great encouragement that we are on the right track.”
CloudBank is intended to support adoption of cloud services from several major cloud providers. Support for Amazon Web Services (AWS) is available immediately, with Google Compute Platform (GCP) in closed beta, and support for Microsoft Azure planned for the near future.
In the words of Ed Lazowska, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, founding director of the eScience Institute, and CloudBank co-PI, “The public cloud represents the future.”