DUG welcomes recommendations of the finalised 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.

DUG welcomes recommendations of the finalised 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.

The Australian Government has recently released the 2021 National Research Infrastructure (NRI) Roadmap (“Roadmap”). This important policy document is now finalised and will guide investment in research infrastructure over the coming decade.

We are very pleased to see that our involvement in the consultation process has been well received. We look forward to working with the federal and state governments, as well as research communities to deliver green, reliable, cost-effective and secure high-performance computing (HPC) solutions.

Limited access to HPC and support.

In an ever-growing, data-centric world, HPC is a fundamental resource for research and innovation. The constant and rapid advance of computing technology, combined with an increasing diversity of researcher needs, means more and more end-users either lack or cannot access the expertise required to effectively leverage HPC.

For example, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Regional Centre 2019 Radio Astronomy Data User Community Survey Report noted that researchers faced a number of serious issues that were impeding progress, such as hardware limitations and the reliability of available HPC systems, as well as a lack of support with respect to software development, maintenance and optimisation.

Flexible, integrated computing ecosystem required.

To address current and emerging challenges, the Roadmap highlights the need for a more flexible, integrated computing ecosystem, where both non-commercial and commercial HPC facilities are accessible to benefit users. We believe that such an ecosystem can be underpinned by a relatively small change to the existing HPC funding model—by placing money or equivalent (rather than HPC time allocations) directly into the hands of end-users. This will provide much-needed flexibility to customise how HPC resources from any accredited facility are utilised. This change would not only level the playing field for HPC providers in Australia, but also empower our brightest minds by giving them access to the fit-for-purpose resources (compute and support) they need, at the pace they need them.

Globally, precedents have been set with respect to HPC funding for both national and commercial providers. The UK Meteorological Office announced a move to the cloud with a £1.2 billion investment to capitalise on the power of commercial HPC. The US National Science Foundation founded CloudBank to equip researchers with access to public cloud resources.

Reliable, green, cost-effective and secure HPCaaS.

The Roadmap notes that access to national facilities is limited due to strong demand. We continue to observe this from a diverse client base who need local, green and well-supported high-performance computing as a service (HPCaaS).

At DUG, we have dedicated support teams of HPC experts to assist with code onboarding, hardware-specific optimisation, algorithm and software development, and general enablement services. Cost-effectiveness is also one of our core values—the cost of our HPCaaS is >60% lower than that of the national facilities. These have been crucial to building working relationships with the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Curtin University and Austal. As well as being able to deploy this specialised expertise, commercial providers also serve to maintain and enhance sovereign capabilities and manage sovereign risk, which is increasingly important with respect to a number of our key markets including military and space.

We continue to make good progress towards ISO9001 and ISO27001 certification, which will validate and allow our effective quality management system to meet customer and regulatory requirements consistently, as well as manage information security risks in line with our business objectives and international best practices. With these certifications, we will have one of the very few HPC facilities in the world that have been formally certified as meeting international security standards, deepening our commitment to uphold global security standards and providing HPC solutions that are not only reliable but also user-focussed.

The Roadmap also notes the importance of sustainability as Australia transitions towards net-zero emissions. We already offer world-leading green HPC credentials with our patented ‘DUG Cool’ immersion-cooling technology for computer hardware, which reduces power consumption by up to 51%. Our plans for a climate-positive HPC campus in Geraldton will also help Australian companies achieve their carbon-reduction goals and meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements.

We welcome the recommendations of the 2021 NRI Roadmap, which will benefit the Australian research community to work in collaboration and partnership with us to access and utilise our growing suite of software and HPCaaS business lines.

By Team DUG

You know the saying "It takes a village...."?  Well sometimes it takes the whole team to write a blog post. We're a team of science-loving computer nerds, geo junkies and tech heads. Wanna hang for a while?

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