NSF to formalize technology adoption as it begins TeraGrid shutdown

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Recently NCSA announced that it is part of a partnership including TACC, PSC, and the NICS that has received an $8.9 million, five-year award to run the eXtreme Digital (XD) Technology Insertion Service (TIS).

John Towns, NCSA’s director of persistent infrastructure, TeraGrid Forum chair and principal investigator (PI) on the Xtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) TIS grant, gave me a little more detail by email on what they are actually going to be up to

NCSA LogoThe Technology Insertion Service  will evaluate technologies that could enhance the productivity of researchers who use of TeraGrid and who will use its successor, eXtreme Digital.  This includes a broad range of “traditional” technologies — community applications, middleware, compilers, libraries, systems software, etc. — but we anticipate the need to evaluate additional technologies in other areas such as technologies for the delivery of online information — training, documentation, environmental status, etc. The prioritization of the evaluations will be driven by the requirements of the TeraGrid/XD user community.  At this point, we have just started the XSEDE TIS project and we are focusing on establishing the infrastructure and procedures for executing the project and will be soliciting both technologies for consideration and the requirements that will drive the selection of technologies for evaluation.  It is important to note that, in any case, the XSEDE Technology Evaluation Database will become a global community resource for registering the existence of a myriad of relevant technologies.

This effort is part of NSF’s transition plan to move away from the TeraGrid, slated to shutdown in April of 2011, and to the XD program which will replace it.

Barry Schneider, NSF TeraGrid program director, said, “The XD program represents the next step in the development and deployment of an advanced cyberinfrastructure for the U.S. scientific and engineering community. The XD program will be replacing the NSF TeraGrid program which provides management of the NSF high-performance computing facilities. The XSEDE TIS team will be responsible for testing and evaluating the software which will become part of the fabric of the new XD program.”

The idea behind XSEDE TIS is to formalize the technology adoption process and offer a more standardized set of tools for common resources on the XD.

“The majority of effort with the Track 2 and similar awards goes toward operating the resources and supporting the users of the resources. Now, NSF is taking a more formal, multi-year approach to technology insertion—to tracking the best technologies in the community and making sure they are evaluated for appropriateness, reliability, effectiveness, and usability,” said Jay Boisseau, director of TACC and co-PI on the XSEDE TIS grant.