CI Compass publishes “NSF Major Facilities Cloud Use Cases and Considerations,” requests feedback from cyberinfrastructure community

Author: Christina Clark

Cloud Report icons include those for Storage, Curation and Archiving; Data Access, Dissemination and Visualization; FAIR Data; Central Processing; and Disaster Recovery

CI Compass began the new year by publishing the Cloud Topical Working Group (TWG) report “National Science Foundation (NSF) Major Facilities Cloud Use Cases and Considerations.”

The report explores the reasons and incentives for NSF Major Facilities to leverage cloud resources for their operations. The cloud offers an extensive range of services, including data storage, archival, processing, and data access that offer gains in scalability and availability. However, those considerations must be balanced against others such as cost.

The NSF supports over 25 Major Facilities (MFs) that serve as cornerstones for the science community, gathering colossal amounts of data each year. MFs have a number of resources they can leverage for their operations including their on-premises infrastructures as well as NSF-funded cloud (Jetstream 2), high-throughput computing systems (PATh), and high-performance resources available for example through ACCESS. The report focuses on the cloud, which provides solutions for hosting and/or archiving data and making it available to the wider community, which can be especially appealing for MFs. Within the report are case studies from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), IceCube Neutrino Observatory (IceCube), and the combined Seismological Facility for the Advancement of Geoscience (SAGE) and Geodetic Facility for the Advancement of Geoscience (GAGE) facilities, operated by the EarthScope Consortium. The case studies offer insights into how other NSF Major Facilities may approach and consider adopting cloud usage in different ways.

The CI Compass Cloud TWG has considered the many ways that MFs may explore pivoting data storage and archival practices to the cloud and have now published the findings for all to review and consider.

“While [the cloud] introduces a myriad of complexities, its advantages are manifold. By viewing cloud adoption as a flexible, case-by-case decision rather than an absolute ‘all-or-nothing’ option, MFs can make informed choices about the level and extent of cloud adoption, which has the potential to significantly amplify their capabilities, enhance research quality, and ensure efficient resources utilization,” the report abstract says. “This report encourages MFs to educate themselves on the fundamentals of cloud computing in order to better understand and leverage the cloud tools and computing model where they best fit MFs’ specific needs, optimizing benefits while effectively managing challenges and complexities.”

CI Compass and the Cloud TWG would like to invite the cyberinfrastructure community to provide feedback on the report.

"Each NSF Major Facility has unique data storage, archiving, computing and operational needs that must be considered as their researchers look for ways to move forward with integrating cloud computing," said Karan Vahi, computer scientist and Cloud TWG lead with CI Compass, and computer scientist in the Science Automation Technologies group at the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute. "Through the Cloud TWG's engagements and research, we have presented our findings through this publication, and invite feedback from members of the cyberinfrastructure community on our next version and direction as a group."

Please contact with any questions, feedback, and notes.

The full report can be found in the CI Compass Resource Library. To learn more about the Cloud TWG, including on how to join the Cloud TWG please visit the CI Compass Topical Working Groups page.

About CI Compass

CI Compass is funded by the NSF Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure in the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering under grant number 2127548. Its participating research institutions include the University of Southern California, Indiana University, Texas Tech University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Utah.

To learn more about CI Compass, please visit

Contact: Christina Clark, Research Communications Specialist
CI Compass / Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame / 574.631.2665 / @cicompass