cloud storage warehouse

Google Cloud agreement boosts computing support for researchers

ITS says partnership will provide security, agility, scalability, and savings

March 9, 2023
Author: UCR News
March 9, 2023

UC Riverside is collaborating with Google Public Sector to modernize the campus’ technology services, which includes increased computing services for researchers. 

“UCR is making a major strategic investment in secure, agile, and scalable enterprise infrastructure and research computing services to facilitate innovation and opportunity for those who learn, teach, work, and do research at UCR,” said Matthew Gunkel, associate vice chancellor and chief information officer of Information Technology Solutions, or ITS, at UCR.

Gunkel estimated two to three-times growth in overall computing and storage capacity for the campus through the subscription-based agreement.

The increased access to computing resources is expected to save both time and money for researchers like Bryan Wong, a professor of materials science and engineering. 

He needs easy access to high performance computing for his everyday research. To test the behavior and reactivity of materials used to make solar cells or other electronics, Wong runs quantum simulations on hundreds of computer processing units simultaneously. Like researchers all over the nation, he normally needs to write proposals requesting access to supercomputer clusters and then wait up to three months for approval. Even then, the access time is limited and costly.

Under the agreement with Google Public Sector, Wong now can run workloads on several thousand processors whenever he wants.

“ITS’ new approach to research computing services is much easier and there’s no lag time,” Wong said.

Gunkel estimated two to three-times growth in overall computing and storage capacity for the campus. In a pilot initiative, ITS helped the UCR University Extension center, or UNEX, migrate all of its data to Google Cloud in just two and a half weeks. Previously, that would have taken months and required numerous servers and physical space, Gunkel said.

“Through this new service structure, we aim to empower faculty and students to focus on their research by removing administrative barriers and providing quick access to infrastructure and service,” Gunkel said. “The goal is to fuel more discoveries and grants, which in turn will help UCR attract top talent.”

The new agreement allows ITS to enhance its support of the university’s mission through: 

•    Advanced research computing services that provide UCR researchers with access to secure research workstations and storage, auto-scaling high-performance computing clusters, infinity scaling databases, and AI and machine-learning services through the Google Cloud Platform

•    The ability to spin up, scale up, and scale down services to match university growth through the implementation of a location-agnostic application modernization strategy using Google Cloud Anthos

•    Enterprise-wide availability to data and business intelligence services that leverage Looker as a cohesive analytics and reporting program and BigQuery as a central superstore to derive valuable insights and access, analyze, and act on up-to-date University data

•    Better protection of student, faculty, and staff data and bolstered campus information security posture through Chronicle

ITS and Google will host an on-campus Innovative Research Orientation on March 13th, where researchers can receive hands-on training from Google Cloud experts on the use of Google’s cloud-based tools to support research workloads.

Google is also hosting its Google Cloud Research Day on March 15 in San Diego, launching a series of workshops where participants can learn about the latest tools and talk to Google experts.