What is Cloud Computing?

MDL Cloud Computing

MDL is helping to lead the NWS into the Cloud.  MDL is working with NOAA OCIO, NOS, and NESDIS to define best practices for the NWS use of the Cloud and has successfully demonstrated that the Cloud provides a stable and secure environment to host NWS applications cost effectively.  Cloud efforts thus far have focused on using AWS Cloud services offered through NOAA OCIO.

Cloud Terms

Term Definition
EC2 Instances Virtual machines in AWS
Serverless Architecture without instances/VMs
Lambda Running programs serverless only charged for running time
S3 Object store *only charged for space used
RDS Relational Database Service within AWS
VPC Virtual Private Cloud

 

Project Objectives

  1. Cloud environments provide a flexible infrastructure to quickly develop and test applications.
  2. Cloud environments provide a stable 24x7 environment in which MDL applications can be previewed by the general weather community.
  3. Cloud environments provide a potential path for moving the MDLNet FISMA system outside of SSMC2.
  4. To develop a roadmap on how to use cloud services within the NWS.
  5. To build a knowledge base on how best to use cloud services for the NWS.

 

Project Findings

  1. Cloud environments DO provide a flexible infrastructure to quickly develop and test applications.
  2. Cloud environments DO provide a stable 24x7 environment in which MDL applications can be previewed by the general weather community.
  3. Cloud environments DO provide a potential path for moving the MDLNet FISMA system outside of SSMC2.
  4. We have found the cloud to be very effective for development/testing/prototyping of NWS applications.  We recommend the NWS expands the use of cloud services, with the understanding that cloud services could be cost prohibitive for high egress network traffic or very computationally extensive projects. 
  5. Our knowledge base continues to grow on how best to use cloud services for the NWS.

 

Cloud Benefits

  • Spin up and scale resources within minutes and only pay for what you need
    • Change size of instances quickly (minutes) 
    • Add additional volumes or space instantly
  • Serverless solutions (pay for what you use) 
    • S3 for file storage
      • 99.999999999% uptime
    • Lambda to execute scripts on demand (e.g., ingest)
      • 99.95% uptime 
      • Unlimited compute capacity
  • Relational DB (RDS) 
    • Read nodes, replication, multiple regions
    • Easy setup, automatic maintenance, optimized performance
  • Uptime and redundancy
  • Permissions controlled through groups, roles, and policies
  • Run servers only when they are needed (while prototyping)
  • Easy configuration of firewalls, load balancers, autoscaling clusters
  • No infrastructure to maintain or cyclically replace
  • No cooling/electricity
  • No overbuying capacity

 

Cloud Costs

  • Costs are based on the resources you use
    • Compute (size of instances - e.g., number of CPUs, memory, GPU?)
    • Disk space and type of disk space
      • Local to VM storage
        • Pay for volume size and speed of underlying disks (e.g., SSD's, fast or slow spinning disks)
      • Shared storage
        • Traditional NFS type volumes
          • Pay higher costs for volume size and number of reads/writes
          • Speed of underlying disks impacts costs (e.g., SSD's, fast or slow spinning disks)
        • Object storage - pay lower rates only for storage used  
          • Cost based on the underlying storage speed or object storage)
    • Egress networking
      • Pay for how much data is pulled from the cloud

Additional MDL Cloud Resources

Contact Cloud Computing

For further information about MDL's Cloud Computing efforts, please contact Kenneth.Sperow@noaa.gov.