Earlier this week NASA announced it had awarded a Small Business Innovative Research Grant (SBIR) to Parabon for the creation of a grid portal for NASA’s scientific codes
The resulting, so-called Componentized Models as a Service (CMaaS) system will let users select from different modeling components (e.g., an oceanographic model and an atmospheric simulation), execute the combined model across an enterprise grid and view the results, all from a standard Web browser.
Although the idea is certainly not new, it has been a while since we’ve seen significant (I hesitate to say major, since this appears to be a relatively small effort in context of the scale of NASA’s computational operations) efforts to improve usability in this way, and I’m on record as being a fan of usability efforts. The caution is that many of these projects are stacked in the “pretty but useless” category, and I hope that NASA and Parabon can avoid that destiny for this project.
Once deployed, the CMaaS infrastructure, a grid powered Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system, will ease the discovery and use of existing NASA models among researchers, encourage collaboration among software component developers and provide a homogenous publishing environment. The solution promises to improve the return on NASA’s modeling and simulation investments, the utilization of its computing resources and the ease-of-use of the resultant modeling applications.