Monday, January 17, 2011

Spotlight on Venus-C

Following the launch of the VENUS-C Open Call last week GridCast had a chat with Ignacio Blanquer who told us a little more about the project.

What is your role in VENUS-C?
I am the person who is responsible for the user scenarios. That means I coordinate different tasks related to describing, designing, migrating and deploying the applications in the user scenarios. This involves analysing the software requirements, transmitting those to the VENUS-C software architects, coordinating and supervising the progress in the design and adapting the application to the VENUS-C platform. Additionally, I am involved in the bioinformatics scenario and I am coordinating the open call to recruit 10 to 20 new prototypes.

What type of research does VENUS-C support?
Currently there are seven user scenarios from four different areas. The user scenarios cover the following areas: static and dynamic analysis of building structures; building information management; fire risk prediction and civil protection; data for science in marine biodiversity; bioinformatics; system biology; and drug discovery. This panoply of use cases will be increased with up to 20 new prototypes from the open call. In general, VENUS-C applies to scenarios that combine data and processing challenges, with a coarse-parallelism model and which have a variable demand of resources or requires immediate access to them.

Can you tell us a little more about the scenario you are in charge of?
I am particularly in charge of the bioinformatics scenario, although my institution is also in charge of the static and dynamic analysis of building structures through a colleague of mine.

The bioinformatics scenario aims to develop a platform for the integration of any nucleotide or protein alignment tool in a cloud platform. It automatically splits data, starts processing engines and retrieves the results in the cloud. It uses the same interfaces and approaches as other bioinformatics-portals and local tools and will enable a seamless transition from local computing to remote computing for research groups in the field.

The scenario on the static and dynamic analysis of building structures aims at adapting a platform that performs such computations on the cloud. This will enable running multiple tests with different conditions (e.g. with different earthquake loads or different features for the materials of the structure), leading to a reduction in construction costs and response time.

What are you looking for in proposals to the VENUS-C Open Call? 
We expect to have users that want to test the VENUS-C platform from different perspectives and communities to help us improve the platform. The main objective of the Open Call is to increase the number of communities, examples and requirements. The evaluation criteria are carefully detailed and described in the documentation of the open call, and this is the same information we will give to the independent external panel that will evaluate the proposals. In my opinion, a successful proposal would be one that introduces some novelty, uses standard tools to solve problems common to a wide community and it is feasible for the short time-scale of the VENUS-C project.

Will researchers benefit much from working with the project?
Absolutely! Selected prototypes will have the opportunity to be the first in experimenting with a cloud platform at industry-quality level in which several components for supporting research are being developed. They will have direct access to developers and infrastructure experts for advice and will be able to use the computing platform until June 2013. They can test and improve their applications and business models and be prepared for a sustainable exploitation after the project end, without incurring infrastructure costs and even receiving funds for catalyzing their development. It is an important opportunity to learn, test, validate experience, share knowledge and gain visibility.

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