Desktop to Cloud Introduction

Scientists and researchers may develop number-crunching programs on a personal machine, but lack the technical means to scale the architecture to deal with meaningful datasets efficiently.

I would like to introduce the “Desktop to Cloud”, a project recently begun that aims to address roadblock. Our goal is to provide tools that push and expand an application contained in one or more desktop VMs to a cloud-based platform.

In a typical scenario, a user would identify one or more images and their roles (master, worker, etc.). The tool then modifies the images as minimally as possible to fit the target cloud infrastructure. The user would additionally specify some architecture parameters, such as machine type and count, which fit the application and budget. Given the images and deployment descriptor, the tool provisions the hosts, executes the master program, waits for task conclusion and returns output to the user.

Please note that we don’t intend to modify the application itself – our assumption is that computation already parallelized in some fashion, and we provide the means to exploit this.

In addition to simplifying the deployment and execution, our project aims to suggest deployments tailored to resource consumption and fiscal constraints. Researchers want to get the most bang for their buck. There’s also no point in sending a program to the cloud that exhausts funds half way through execution.

Our current platform target is the migration from VirtualBox to Amazon EC2. Success and demand depending, we may support other platforms.

The project is in the initial stages. We have simple shell scripts that create working AMIs from Ubuntu VirtualBox images. The next step underway is to port this to Python and wrap in a shiny GUI. Please stay tuned.

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About Chris Willmore

Software Engineering Master's Student at Tartu University

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