In November 2020, the Danish universities coordinated by DeiC committed to working closely together to provide a joint platform to access all the DeiC national services such as the national HPC facilities. The project known as DeiC Project 5 will create the National Integration Portal based on the UCloud software infrastructure. As part of the DeiC Project 5, we are now introducing a major update of UCloud, preparing the platform to allow multiple providers to expose their services.

As part of the call for National HPC services, a consortium consisting of DTU, AU and SDU was awarded by the DeiC Board the DeiC Project 5, the goal of which is to build the National Integration Portal. This project will extend the UCloud software to provide the additional functionality required by the National Integration Portal.

The main change with the present update of UCloud concerns splitting of the codebase into two separate parts: The core and the provider.

“This isn’t about changing the user experience, but rather about unifying it,” says Dan Sebastian Thrane, Team Leader for Cloud Services at the eScience Center. “The splitting of the code base has required a huge work effort, more than half of the code base has been affected, but if we’ve done our job well, the users will not experience a change in their workflow on UCloud.”

In this sense, the improvements are mostly invisible and behind the scenes, where the developers have paved the way for researchers to be able to access different resources from different providers through UCloud in the near future.

One of the goals is to be able to provide access to the DeiC HPC facilities, and the present update makes this possible. One of the members of the consortium for Project 5 is the DTU team behind the national DeiC System called Sophia. Thanks to the update it will soon be possible for the users to access Sophia at DTU, to submit new jobs or look at the status of their jobs. The integration with the Project 5 is expected to take place in 2022 for all DeiC HPC systems.

Thanks to the update some of the existing functionality will also be improved. E.g. the integration between the two sites for the DeiC Interactive HPC at AAU and SDU will make use of the new functionality and API. This will e.g. improve the workflow to create VMs and reduce the time needed.

Security in focus

A large part of the effort in Project 5 was dedicated to the design of the new system in particular from the point of view of security. The final design is based on principles from Zero Trust architectures:

The goal of ZT is to prevent unauthorized access to data and services coupled with making the access control enforcement as granular as possible.”

From NIST SP 800-207

Improved overview of resources and accounting model

As part of the National Integration Portal we want to provide both the users and the funding agencies an overview of the resources available and spent inside projects. We are improving the resource overview on UCloud, starting from this update. The new resource page will provide a simpler overview of the resources that have been allocated to a project, divided in a few general categories such as compute and storage.

The new release also improves the description of resources in UCloud and their accounting. Different service providers connected to the National Integration Portal can describe their locally available resources via common API. The resource consumption model has been made more flexible. E.g. compute resources can be spent both by DKK per hour or by core hour. In addition, projects can now receive resources from multiple granting agencies, e.g. from DeiC and the local university at the same time.

There are many more improvements coming with this release. If you are interested in finding out more, please have a look at the detailed version release note available on UCloud.