Edinburgh International Data Facility Summer 2020 update

Author: Rob Baxter
Posted: 30 Jul 2020 | 11:44

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, work is proceeding on the development of the Edinburgh International Data Facility (EIDF) and the advanced computing facility that will host it.

The EIDF is the underpinning data infrastructure of the activities of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland Data Driven Innovation (DDI) Programme. It supports data and computing activities across all areas of the Programme and was, until February 2020, known by its original name of World Class Data Infrastructure (WCDI).

When fully operational, EIDF will be hosted in a new Tier-3 computer room, “cr4”, at EPCC’s Advanced Computing Facility. cr4 is nearing the end of its construction, having been delayed a couple of months by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we anticipate being able to move in equipment in early October this year.

On the hardware side of things, we were very pleased to finalise the £100m procurement deal with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) in the early summer. Using a building block approach to meet different needs – compute, storage, GPU acceleration – we now have the flexibility to build out EIDF incrementally rather than all at once. This will enable us to be challenge-led and respond to the rapidly changing nature of data driven innovation. We are working closely with HPE on the first major “Phase 1” equipment purchase, with a number of early adopters firmly in mind.

Software-wise, EPCC software and systems engineers have been beavering away in their home offices, putting in place the last few pieces of a rich cloud-computing environment for data science. EIDF’s first service offerings, expected in April next year, will include virtual desktops pre-configured with data science tools and with access to GPU acceleration and a rich and expanding layer of analytics-ready data. We’re also planning to roll out data hosting and archiving services, a new version of the University’s Internet of Things research service, and a first version of the central EIDF data catalogue. 

Other, more specialised, services will follow through the year – see the service catalogue roadmap at https://www.ed.ac.uk/edinburgh-international-data-facility/services.

Throughout these development days, and despite the challenges raised by the global pandemic, we’ve been able to continue our work with EIDF’s early adopters, including UK Research and Innovation, the Scottish Government, Fife Council, the National Collection of Aerial Photography, the Industrial Centre for AI Research in Digital Diagnostics and the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence. 

A lot of activity has centred recently on the National Safe Haven, the existing secure research environment EPCC run for the NHS, Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government. In this context, we’ve been very pleased to be able to assist in the fight against COVID-19).

The first quarter of 2021 will be crunch time for EIDF. While predictions in the current climate inevitably involve guesswork and a degree of luck, we’re confident we have all the pieces in place for a rich and powerful new service for data science in Scotland.

Links

EPCC and EIDF COVID-19 response: www.ed.ac.uk/edinburgh-international-data-facility/updates-events/eidf-and-epcc-s-covid-19-response

This post first appeared on the EIDF blog: www.ed.ac.uk/edinburgh-international-data-facility/updates-events/eidf-summer-update

Author

Rob Baxter, EIDF Programme Manager