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Harvard Medical School builds computing cloud to aid research

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The Harvard Faculty of Medicine has set up a computing cloud to aid resource management between its numerous locations around Boston. Fifty clinical departments conduct vast amounts of basic and clinical research and many of the faculty appointed to these departments are based at 17 affiliated institutions, including teaching hospitals.

Platform LSF, from Platform Computing, plays a key role in enabling Harvard's cluster to supply demand for compute resources dynamically to all of the users across the many organisations accessing the cluster.

'High performance computing is just at the centre of discovery today and it's personally gratifying for me that we are enabling researchers to one day find the cure for cancer, to continue the discovery of genomics and proteomics and that the impact of our work here can actually make a big difference on alleviating human suffering caused by disease,' said Dr Marcos Athanasoulis, director, information technology at Harvard Medical School.

'One of the things we're actually looking at is how do you start to move the computation towards the data rather than the data towards the computation?,' he continued. 'We're looking at working with Platform and others, when we've grid-enabled certain applications, on how we transport the actual jobs to the places where the data reside.'

The institute now has 500 users and more than 1,000 cores, which Athanasoulis expects to grow to 3,000-5,000 cores in coming years. 'It started with a few terabytes of data; we now have 130 terabytes. So certainly by the metric of our people using it, it has been a fantastic success.'