Cloud Computing: The NASA Way

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NASA logoAccording to a recent InformationWeek article, NASA is ramping up efforts to deploy and support a computing cloud.  The new initiative is rumored to be utilized for space missions and allow outside users greater participation in the space program.  The first portion of the cloud is already up and running.  “Nebula”, as its called, hasn’t been publicly mentioned very much until Chris Kemp, CIO of NASA Ames Research Center, mentioned it this week at the Federal IT on a Budget Forum.

According to the Nebula website:

NEBULA is a Cloud Computing environment developed at NASA Ames Research Center, integrating a set of open-source components into a seamless, self-service platform. It provides high-capacity computing, storage and network connectivity, and uses a virtualized, scalable approach to achieve cost and energy efficiencies.

The fully-integrated nature of the NEBULA components provides for extremely rapid development of policy-compliant and secure web applications, fosters and encourages code reuse, and improves the coherence and cohesiveness of NASA’s collaborative web applications. It is used for Education and Public Outreach, for collaboration and public input, and also for mission support.

It also points out that Nebula was built from the ground up, rather than using cloud tools from the likes of Amazon, Google or UnivaUD.  If you browse through their website, you can actually get a good architectural picture of how it works.  They’re utilizing quite a few common open source tools: MySQL, SAML, LDAP, Subversion, TRAC, Java, Python, and Lustre [presumably].  Halt, rewind.  Indeed, the architecture pic mentions “Luster File System”, which I interpreted as a mispelling of “Lustre.”  You heard it, Lustre has officially made the jump to virtualized cloud computing.

For more info on Nebula, read InformationWeek’s article here and check out the Nebula homepage here.


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