Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Coding the SageMath Cloud

I love the Holiday break.  I get to work on (SMC) all day again!   Right now I'm working on a multi-data center extension of for storing a large pool of sparse compressed deduplicated ZFS image files that are efficiently replicated between data centers.  Soon SMC projects will all be hosted in this, which will mean that they can very quickly be moved between computers, are available even if all but one data center goes down, and will have ZFS snapshots instead of the current snapshot system.  ZFS snapshots are much better for this application, since you can force them to happen at a point in time, with tags, and also delete them if you want.  A little later I'll even make it so you can do a full download (to your computer) of an SMC project (and all snapshots!) by just downloading the ZFS image file and mounting it yourself. 

I'm also continuing to work on adding a Google Compute Engine data center; this is the web server parts hosted there right now,    but the real interesting part will be making compute nodes available, since the GCE compute nodes are very fast.   I'll be making 30GB RAM 8-core instances available, so one can start a project there and just get access to that -- for free for to SMC users, despite the official price being $0.829/hour.    I hope this happens soon. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Sagemath Cloud: a minute "elevator description"

The Sagemath Cloud combines open source technology that has come out of cloud computing and mathematical software (e.g., web-based Sage and IPython worksheets) to make online mathematical computation easily accessible. People can collaboratively use mathematical software, author documents, use a full command line terminal, and edit complicated computer programs, all using a standard web browser with no special plugins. The core design goals of the site are collaboration and very high reliability, with data mirrored between multiple data centers. The current dedicated infrastructure should handle over a thousand simultaneous active users, and the plan is to scale up to tens of thousands of users as demand grows (about 100 users sign up each day right now). Most open source mathematical software is pre-installed, and users can also install their own copies of proprietary software, if necessary. There are currently around 1000 users on the site each day from all over the world.

The Sagemath Cloud is under very active development, and there is an ongoing commercialization effort through University of Washington, motivated by many users who have requested more compute power, disk space, or the option to host their own install of the site. Also, though the main focus is on mathematics, the website has also been useful to people in technical areas outside mathematics that involve computation.