Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA The Internet

NASA Nebula, Cloud Computing In a Container 55

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you're-the-guys-thinking-stuff-up dept.
1sockchuck writes "NASA has built its Nebula cloud computing platform inside a data center container so it can add capacity quickly, bringing extra containers online in 120 days. Nebula will provide on-demand computing power for NASA researchers managing large data sets and image repositories. 'Nebula has been designed to automatically increase the computing power and storage available to science- and data-oriented web applications as demand rises,' explains NASA's Chris Kemp. NASA has created the project using open source components and will release Nebula back to the open source community. 'Hopefully we can provide a good example of a successful large-scale open source project in the government and pave the way for similar projects in other agencies,' the Nebula team writes on its blog."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Nebula, Cloud Computing In a Container

Comments Filter:
  • Water Cooled Data Center In A Container?

  • We need more investment in open-source projects like this. Such works are building a better future for us and I, for one, thank them for it. Though I doubt we will see any major commitment pushing for open sourced works from private operations, so the quote is a little optimistic, IMHO.
  • Doesn't that still seem like quite a long time? Four months? I guess that includes the "Planning Cycle", whatever that means.
    • by worip (1463581)
      This is the aerospace industry we're talking about, there is A LOT of red tape surrounding each and every movement, change, purchase, etc.
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      120 Days?

      Doesn't that still seem like quite a long time? Four months?

      Have you ever tried wiring up the interior of anything built into a shipping container? It seems like a quite reasonable build speed to me, having been involved with the building/ rebuilding of a half-dozen containerised laboratories over the years.

      Firstly, if you're using a standard shipping container to simplify movement issues, then you've got to stick to the dimensions, weights and stiffnesses specified for such containers. Otherwise

  • by NoYob (1630681)

    In addition, the Nebula platform itself will help facilitate the adoption of open source software across the Government.

    That won't be sole the reason. As departments have to cut budget's in the near future, they'll be looking more and more to F/OSS to save money. Nebula is proving the low budget F/OSS solution as viable.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mortaegus (1688452)
      It doesn't matter what the reason is, the fact that they are doing it at all is what matters to me. I'd accept a company bragging and boasting about themselves for doing something good in a heartbeat, as long as they did something worth doing. Likewise, I don't care what the motivating factor is in this instance, as long as it gets done, and really is open-sourced.
      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        What a fanatical viewpoint.

        I don't care what it is, as long as it's open source!

        If it's not open source, then it's BAD.

        • by smoker2 (750216)

          What a fanatical viewpoint.

          Yes you have. Get a fucking clue.

          If it's not open source then it's another kind of software, software isn't BAD or GOOD, it's how it's used that's important. Or was that a troll ?

  • quick? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @11:39AM (#30297800)

    NASA has built its Nebula cloud computing platform inside a data center container so it can add capacity quickly, bringing extra containers online in 120 days

    4 months is quick?

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @11:47AM (#30297878) Homepage

    Like so many promising high-tech ideas, the word "cloud computing" is being over-used. Cloud computing means being able to get virtual hosting with a few clicks, and automatically scale up and down as demand changes, all while being billed by resources actually used.

    Not every cluster of servers or supercomputer deserves to be called "cloud." Not everyone who runs VMware deserves to be called "cloud."

    • by JWW (79176)

      I believe that Nebula is deserving of the cloud moniker. From what I've seen of it, it is very similar to Amazon's EC2 "cloud" services.

      Its got virtual hosting and can scale and provides many of the same components as EC2 plus has disk sharing across instances.

      Nebula is really a cloud.

    • by MrTester (860336)

      Your looking at it wrong.
      NASA is standing up a generic service for data processing. Various programs with data processing needs at NASA can access this, and from their perspective they get "virtual hosting with a few clicks, and automatically scale up and down as demand changes, all while being billed by resources actually used."

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        You're looking at it wrong. NASA's batch supercomputers have operated in this fashion for decades. One division gets a large supercomputer, and various projects get allotted CPU quotas. They can run as small or as large of tasks as they please on the first free nodes that open up, all billed to their quota. The fact that they put it on the internet for use with web servers does not make it anything new or amazing.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      At one moment there was entanglement between "grid" and "cloud" computing. I'm not sure people who use them usually understand their underlying meanings. I try to make people more specific, I don't like these words which are too close to buzzwords, in my humble opinion...
  • A nasa computer in a nebulous cloud?

    I think we all know where this is going -- V'ger wants to bond with its creator and instead gets a bald girl and Decker to create a new life form.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @11:51AM (#30297958) Journal

    Look, I'm a big fan of the space program and everything but with the country at (two) war(s), hocked to the hilt, economically stuttering, NASA (like the rest of the government) needs to be focused on its "core competencies" (no I'm not a PHB). Where does building data centers fit into NASA's mission statement?

    I realize that there are tremendous amounts of data that needs to be captured, analyzed and archived (the Terra satellite sends a terabyte of data a day alone I think) but isn't this something that can be done more efficiently by private industry (Google?). Maybe it can be even outsourced providing it is not of a sensitive nature, I mean isn't the data for all mankind?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by belthize (990217)

      A lot of their information is considered sensitive, particularly engine modeling and telemetry.

      The question of mission creep is certainly valid. In this case though I suspect it's simplest/best for NASA to do it themselves. Frequently outsourced cloud computing at this level looks good financially but simply isn't practical when you translate white paper speak:

      extensible, flexible, segmented, secure, etc into reality

      use our API and like it, you can have 8 or 16GB mem/node, somebody else is using the clus

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AMuse (121806)

        To follow up on this (Disclaimer: I am a NASA employee), NASA and other federal agencies are prohibited by policy and law from transmitting or storing many of our data types on non-government owned hardware and networks. (Transmitting of course can be done if it's tightly encrypted). Processing our data on private servers is strictly prohibited in many cases.

        The most frequently cited laws and policies which dictate this are FISMA and OMB M-06-16, but there are many others. Employees are even prohibited

    • by zeldor (180716)

      This is not so much a "data center" as it is going to be a generic compute resource.
      Given the computer modeling and simulations that NASA needs to do to support its
      "space" missions this kind of thing is very much related to its core mission statements.

    • by vrmlguy (120854)

      NASA is *always* under-budget. Out-sourcing a one-off design to private industry *always* costs more than doing something in-house. Do the math.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      NASA (like the rest of the government) needs to be focused on its "core competencies" (no I'm not a PHB).

      If you aren't a PHB, then why complain using PHB/Marketdroid fuzzy buzzwords?

      Where does building data centers fit into NASA's mission statement?

      NASA does all manner of things that aren't launching things into space because without doing those things, the things they do launch into space might as well be chunks of firewood. For example, operating a large communications network, or operating a con

      • by lennier (44736)

        "Yes, the science data is for all mankind, but there is usually a 'hold back period' of a year or two where only the science team (usually from outside NASA) has access to it."

        Because it takes this long for Majestic-12 to photoshop out all the aliens and boy, are their mouse fingers tired.

        "This is only fair, as they're the guys who fought for funding for the instrument"

        'I need a hundred million dollars to count all the left-handed spiral galaxies. It will revolutionise science!'

        'No I need TWO hundred millio

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636)

      but isn't this something that can be done more efficiently by private industry

      I know that there is, in some areas, a belief in the unicorns-and-rainbows magical power of private industry to perform more efficiently -- a view that makes one wonder how many of its adherents have actually held real jobs in private industry -- but the evidence is simply lacking, particularly where government contracts are concerned. Ever seen the miracles private industry works with DoD contracts?

      The vital difference between the public and private sectors that market ideologues always fail to take into a

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        "a view that makes one wonder how many of its adherents have actually held real jobs in private industry"

        Worked in both and private industry is many many times more efficient in every way.

    • by qw0ntum (831414)
      It's important to remember NASA consists of more than just Johnson and Kennedy (space centers). Each center focuses on certain areas that are important to NASA's overarching mission. Ames, actually, does a lot of computer science and software engineering research, so this makes sense to do here.

      Additionally, NASA deals with a lot of data, for example from their earth-monitoring and climate science missions. There is a huge need for computing infrastructure, and a resource like this that can be shared acr
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AMuse (121806)

        There's another important factor in the paranoia about data breaches and risk that's often VERY overlooked.

        As part of the chain of responsibility, the CIO community (the individual CIOs at the 11 NASA centers, and the federal CIOs in general) are very risk-averse. Why might that be? Well, in addition to the normal slamming your agency has to endure if there's a data/privacy breach, the CIOs and decision makers may also be civilly or criminally liable for negligence if it can be shown that they were permi

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I realize that there are tremendous amounts of data that needs to be captured, analyzed and archived (the Terra satellite sends a terabyte of data a day alone I think) but isn't this something that can be done more efficiently by private industry (Google?). Maybe it can be even outsourced providing it is not of a sensitive nature, I mean isn't the data for all mankind?

      If you outsource it, you have all the expenses you now have, plus the civilian PHBs' outrageous pay, perks, and bonuses. I don't understand w

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Crap. Here's the link [chicagotribune.com].

        The big lie that Republicans have inflicted on us, starting with St. Ronald, is that government is a morass of inefficiency, and private enterprise is the Enlightenment. (Republicans have practically disappeared from the Snow Belt. I just point this out.) My own experience is that when I go to get a new driver's license in St. Paul, or deal with the city inspector when a sewage line breaks, or walk into a post office to mail letters, or talk to the police when our house alarm goes off,

        • by ArsonSmith (13997)

          Random anecdotes do not make data. Health-care is already over 50% run by government and it has steadily gone down hill as that number has gone up. Please look into the budgeted costs of what a lightly regulated company does compared to a heavily regulated health-care company or a completely public program.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Knowlege is more than just data, and some data are anectdotal. I don't need a double blind study to know that my city-owned electric company's rates are the lowest in the state, or that the privately owned Amerin's are the highest. I don't need a study to know that I was, in fact, well treated at Illinois' DMV and was treated like dogshit by the cable company.

            CWLP has the best customer service, lowest rates, and best uptime in the state for a reason -- if they screw up, the Mayor loses his job. Amerin, on t

            • by ArsonSmith (13997)

              Calling both power and cable companies private and or free market is kind of a stretch.

            • by smoker2 (750216)
              Your comment was fine up until the last paragraph, then you made assumptions which you have no evidence for. Please make your assumptions fit the actual truth. Even if the truth doesn't fit, maybe it's something worth aiming for. Instead of the crap you have been used to up 'till now. This is what govt. was designed for...

              <Now for a ramble> I've been drinking in a pub which has a new landlady. She's got nice tits, but this is irrelevant. One of the first things she does is put all the condiments in

  • So you put some servers in a shipping container.

    What does that bring you aside from the ability to move said servers around? If you need to access a remote data center you simply dial it up.

    I can't wait until they put one of these in a double-wide and the next tornado spots it.
    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:5, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @01:13PM (#30299048) Homepage Journal

      Shipping containers are stackable. Remember when blade servers were introduced, and many people said "no one will want those, you can't even install per-node peripherals"? These are the blade server equivalent of data centers. Also, all ISO shipping containers have convenient mounting points, so you can protect these from heavy weather by sinking piles and just bolting them down. They even have the potential to be watertight, so if you built them cleverly enough, with air intakes and exhausts bussed through them and with hoods on the roof of the top unit, they could even be flood-resistant in such a scenario.

      I have no idea if any of that applies to this system, but there's good reasons to use containers.

  • by vrmlguy (120854) <samwyse.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:00PM (#30298074) Homepage Journal

    Hello, old meme, long time no see.

  • by Xouba (456926) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:04PM (#30298120) Homepage
    The best thing about this is that they are, allegedly, using Eucalyptus: http://nebula.nasa.gov/blog/2009/nov/how-eucalyptus-enables-ec2-compatibility-with-nebu/ [nasa.gov]
  • We'll know they *really* made it when we see the die cast replica.

  • Huh? Oh well, better get back to my astronomy assignment. Err, I mean Cloud Study.
  • Do you know how long it takes to build a data center? In most cases it is years and years. And you have to build it to your eventual maximum size. Guess to small and you have to build another one. Guess to large and you have a lot of expensive floorspace going to waste.

    With a data center in a shipping container you and build it in less than 6 months from first thinking of need and having it up and running. Yes it will take another 3 months to plan it, get the funding, find a place to put it and install

  • NASA needs to focus. They act like they're the National Science Foundation. They shouldn't be doing general R&D.

It's time to boot, do your boot ROMs know where your disk controllers are?

Working...