National Cyberinfrastructure = Discovery, Research, Innovation

Mark Dietrich, President and CEO

Across the globe, advanced research computing is recognized as essential infrastructure for discovery, research and innovation. In Canada, we are building on a made-in-Canada model that combines federated operations with concentrated investments and implementation of a national technology plan. This model allows us to support the needs of Canada’s globally competitive research community, to enable Canada’s big science investments, and to help attract and retain world-class researchers at institutions across Canada.

Compute Canada’s ability to support excellent researchers across Canada regardless of location or discipline, with both large and small needs, is a unique solution that helps our institutions compete on the world stage. Like the building of the Trans Canada Highway, the scale of costs and needed expertise require a strong federated model, guided by national planning and leadership. Local support and operational expertise are combined with national needs assessment, advocacy, technical specification and strategic planning to create systems and services scaled to meet today's research requirements.

Our merit-based process enables access to multi-million dollar infrastructure, allowing even the smallest institutions to compete, and providing our strongest research facilities access to resources at a scale that no institution, region or province could fund on its own. Our ability to serve both large and small users through a nationally-integrated platform is a key advantage of the Compute Canada model and the envy of many international communities.

This April marked the end of my second year as Compute Canada President and CEO. Over the last 24 months we have built a strong, distributed management team that includes experts from across Compute Canada. Key groups are the Technological Leadership Council (TLC) and Science Leadership Council (SLC), as well as almost twenty “national teams” in specialized areas such as storage, networking, digital humanities, visualization, communications and research support. I would like to thank ACENET, Calcul Québec, Compute Ontario and WestGrid for their contributions to all of these teams, because this collaboration represents the strength and backbone of the organization.

As the national voice for advanced research computing, Compute Canada’s outreach and advocacy for increased investment in ARC resources contributed to the Budget 2015 announcement of $100 million in capital funding for cyber infrastructure in Canada.

The timing could not be more appropriate. Our community continues to grow: today we serve more than 10,000 users including 3,000 faculty. We project 60% growth in users over the next 5 years, along with 7x growth in compute and 15x increase storage demand over the same period. Our users and our usage represent the top tier of Canadian research; therefore, growing and sustaining the national ARC platform to keep pace with this demand is essential for Canada to stay globally competitive.

Keeping pace means aligning every one of our funding proposals and planning with the needs of the research community. This starts with the Sustainable Planning for Advanced Research Computing (SPARC) initiative, a regular consultation with the community, launched in 2014, repeated earlier this year, and planned again for late 2017 in advance of future funding opportunities. This community input informs our strategic decisions and helps us maintain a national technology plan that defines both the future technology investments and service requirements that we believe will be needed to meet the demands of our user community. This plan is available on our website and itself the subject of regular consultation.

The computing power required to model complex systems continues to increase, as do the research data sets being mined for new insights into the world around us. Whether modeling combustion in a jet engine, the movement of drugs and other molecules through living tissue, the effects of climate change on the ocean and atmosphere, or the collision of two black holes, our leading Canadian researchers require increased access to computational and data storage resources. We will continue working with the entire research community to advocate for sustained investment in this essential infrastructure, so that we have the capacity required to keep pace with growing research needs, and we can continue to enable bigger, better and faster results by Canadian researchers and innovators.

Mark Dietrich | President and CEO