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Finding Tropical Cyclones on a Cloud Computing Cluster: Using Parallel Virtualization for Large-Scale Climate Simulation Analysis

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4 Author(s)
Hasenkamp, D. ; Lawrence Berkeley Nat. Lab., Berkeley, CA, USA ; Sim, A. ; Wehner, M. ; Wu, K.

Extensive computing power has been used to tackle issues such as climate changes, fusion energy, and other pressing scientific challenges. These computations produce a tremendous amount of data, however, many of the data analysis programs currently only run a single processor. In this work, we explore the possibility of using the emerging cloud computing platform to parallelize such sequential data analysis tasks. As a proof of concept, we wrap a program for analyzing trends of tropical cyclones in a set of virtual machines (VMs). This approach allows the user to keep their familiar data analysis environment in the VMs, while we provide the coordination and data transfer services to ensure the necessary input and output are directed to the desired locations. This work extensively exercises the networking capability of the cloud computing systems and has revealed a number of weaknesses in the current cloud system software. In our tests, we are able to scale the parallel data analysis job to a modest number of VMs and achieve a speedup that is comparable to running the same analysis task using MPI. However, compared to MPI based parallelization, the cloud-based approach has a number of advantages. The cloud-based approach is more flexible because the VMs can capture arbitrary software dependencies without requiring the user to rewrite their programs. The cloud-based approach is also more resilient to failure, as long as a single VM is running, it can make progress while as soon as one MPI node fails the whole analysis job fails. In short, this initial work demonstrates that a cloud computing system is a viable platform for distributed scientific data analyses traditionally conducted on dedicated supercomputing systems.

Published in:

Cloud Computing Technology and Science (CloudCom), 2010 IEEE Second International Conference on

Date of Conference:

Nov. 30 2010-Dec. 3 2010