The University of California, San Diego (UCSD)'s San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and Information Technology Services (ITS) Division, the University of Washington (UW)'s eScience Institute, and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB)'s Division of Data Science have developed and operate CloudBank, a cloud access entity funded by the National Science Foundation (Award #1925001) that helps the computer science community access and use public clouds for research and education by delivering a set of managed services designed to simplify access to public clouds. Driven by the profound potential of the public cloud and the associated complexity in using it, CloudBank serves as an integrated service provider to the research community through a comprehensive set of user-facing and business operations functions. These services span the spectrum from novice to advanced cloud users, including front line user support, cloud solution consulting, training, and assistance in preparing proposals that include cloud resources. CloudBank provides innovative financial engineering options that give researchers more flexible cloud terms tailored for their needs and contribute to the sustainability of CloudBank operations. CloudBank helps NSF by bundling multiple small requests that come directly to NSF into a bulk request to cloud providers, dis-incentivizing more costly direct connections. Through this aggregation and innovative financial contract types, CloudBank passes along savings to researchers that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

CloudBank provides on-ramp support that reduces researcher cloud adoption pain points 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. It is complemented by a cloud usage monitoring system that gives NSF-funded researchers the ability to easily grant permissions to research group members and students, set spending limits, and recover unused cloud credits. These systems support multiple cloud vendors and can be accessed via intuitive, easy-to-use user portal that gives users a single point of entry to these functions.

The CloudBank project and associated portal software, outreach and training materials, and experience in negotiating and delivering public cloud services significantly advance the state of the practice and understanding of how to use these resources in computer science research and education. The close collaboration between the CloudBank project, cloud providers, researchers, and students will simultaneously enable new research while providing a unique opportunity to develop and study the operational, technological and business dimensions of fundamentally new model of public/private partnership in the service of the research enterprise.

It is a primary objective of CloudBank to broaden the access and impact of cloud computing across the many fields of computer science research and education. The project will reach hundreds of researchers and students through allocated research projects and classes. A far larger group of stakeholders will benefit by CloudBank outreach efforts, such as workshops, publications, the CloudBank Center of Excellence on Cloud-Enabled Research and Education, and the CloudBank Advisory Board. CloudBank offers a long-term vision for service and sustainability that will broaden the impact of public cloud computing across all sciences and help ensure that students entering the workforce and research enterprise will be able to contribute and compete in the global economy.

More Information

  • Michael Norman, Vince Kellen, Shava Smallen, Brian DeMeulle, Shawn Strande, Ed Lazowska, Naomi Alterman, Rob Fatland, Sarah Stone, Amanda Tan, Katherine Yelick, Eric Van Dusen, and James Mitchell. 2021. CloudBank: Managed Services to Simplify Cloud Access for Computer Science Research and Education. In Practice and Experience in Advanced Research Computing (PEARC '21). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 45, 1–4.
  • CloudBank FAQ page
  • Flyer describing DCL 22-087 funding opportunity