Introducing SLATE: Services Layer at the Edge

This is a our very first blog entry for the SLATE project - we’re just getting started!

Much of science today is propelled by multi-institutional research collaborations that require computing environments that connect instrumentation, data, and computational resources. These resources are distributed among university research computing centers, national-scale high performance computing facilities, and commercial cloud service providers. The scale of the data and complexity of the science drive this diversity, and the need to aggregate resources from many sources into scalable computing systems. The heterogeneity of resources causes scientists to spend more time on the technical aspects of computation and data management than on discoveries and knowledge creation, while computing support staff are required to invest more effort integrating domain specific software stacks with limited applicability beyond the community served. Services Layer At The Edge (SLATE) provides technology that simplifies connecting university and laboratory data center capabilities to the national cyberinfrastructure ecosystem and thus expands the reach of domain-specific science gateways and multi-site research platforms.

SLATE implements ‘cyberinfrastructure as code’ by augmenting the canonical Science DMZ pattern with a generic, programmable, secure and trusted underlayment platform. This platform hosts advanced container-centric services needed for higher-level capabilities such as data transfer nodes, software and data caches, workflow services and science gateway components. SLATE uses best-of-breed data center virtualization components, and where available, software defined networking, to enable distributed automation of deployment and service lifecycle management tasks by domain experts. As such it simplifies creation of scalable platforms that connect research teams, institutions and resources to accelerate science while reducing operational costs and development cycle times. Since SLATE needs only commodity components for its functional layers, it is used in building distributed systems across all data center types and scales thus enabling creation of ubiquitous, science-driven cyberinfrastructure.

This award by the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure is jointly supported by the Computational Physics within the NSF Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Work supported by NSF Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure OAC Award #1724821 CIF21 DIBBs: EI: SLATE and the Mobility of Capability.

The SLATE Team