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ECAR Working Groups: Cyberinfrastructure

Cyberinfrastructure is a rapidly growing and expanding component of information technology focused on distributed computing, data, and communications technology. Hardware and software systems are rapidly being developed and implemented to build the virtual research communities along with the collaborative tools to knit these user communities together. Along with these rapid advances, a well educated and trained workforce needs to be in place to support these activities. This overall process is changing whole disciplines, educational initiatives, and research methodologies. Cyberinfrastructure encompasses a broad array of topics, including:

  • Supercomputing 
  • Data centers, including power efficiency 
  • Research data management 
  • High-capacity, mass-storage systems 
  • Scalable interactive visualization 
  • State-of-the-art high-performance networks 
  • Education and workforce development 
  • Grids and middleware

Below are current projects being pursued in this space.

Big Data in the Campus Landscape

ECAR Campus Cyberinfrastructure (ECAR-CCI) Working Group
Project Co-chairs:

This project began April 2014 by a subgroup of the ECAR Campus Cyberinfrastructure Working Group. It has the goal of producing a series of papers that aims to establish the role that research big data plays in campus cyberinfrastructure (CI); point out issues of concern around big data and campus CI, support, and development; and presents findings and recommendations to CIOs, vice presidents for infrastructure, and IT computing and networking staff.

Project Description

Datasets that are massive in scale are becoming increasingly common for both research and administrative data in higher education. Experts expect that there will be a boom in big data in the next decade, as big data is transforming the way research is done (particularly in the sciences) as well as is being used in analytics to support business decisions and indicate value. But issues that surround data generally take on unique characteristics when it comes to big data—from networks that aren’t growing at the same speed as data storage and computation speed, to questions of security and the scalability of current firewalls and other measures. How will our campuses support big data, and what impact does that have on exisiting campus infrastructure? A series of papers will look at these questions, starting with an introduction to the series and followed at this time by three papers that will focus on basic infrastructure support, security & privacy, and curation.

Expected Completion:

  • Introduction: Published
  • Basic Infrastructure Support: Published (Authors: Guy Almes and Ralph Zottola)
  • Security and Privacy: January 2015 (Authors: Curt Hillegas, Bill Barnett, Mike Corn, and Kent Wada)
  • Curation: February 2015 (Author: Clifford Lynch)

See the detailed project proposal for more information.

Research Computing in the Cloud

ECAR Campus Cyberinfrastructure (ECAR-CCI) Working Group
Working Group Co-chairs:

This is a project of the ECAR Campus Cyberinfrastructure (ECAR-CCI) Working Group; work began October 2014. The project asks, "What research computing is technically possible in the cloud, and what limitations still exist?" The result will be an overview guide that will focus on what is technically possible in the cloud rather than the business model and cost structures of using the cloud.

Project Description
Transitioning from a local infrastructure to the use of cloud services—particularly in the public cloud—is becoming commonplace in higher education. Thus far, however, this trend has not been fully tested for research computing. In research computing there are unique needs and issues, including: long-term use and manipulation of data, sensitive data, restricted use data, modeling, simulation, network speed and latency, packet loss, and more. This project aims to start a conversation among CIOs, other IT leaders, and researchers about what is being done and is feasible in the public cloud for research computing, what works well in the private cloud, and what virtualized technology can’t really handle yet. It will further explore the roles we play with data providers and cloud vendors, and the capabilities, benefits, and drawbacks of the cloud for research computing.

Expected Completion: May 2015

See the detailed project proposal for more information.


ECAR Campus Cyberinfrastructure Working Group (ECAR-CCI)

ECAR-CCI Co-chairs: Guy Almes,Texas A&M University, and Curtis W. Hillegas, Princeton University

The ECAR Campus Cyberinfrastructure (ECAR-CCI) Working Group helps educational institutions develop institutional strategies, plan resource deployment, and help users harness and optimize the power and capabilities of these new integrated IT tools and systems for educational and research applications in higher education. The group will emphasize how the various elements of campus cyberinfrastructure combine, in a holistic way, to support the mission of our universities. The working group welcomes input, ideas, and project participation from the higher education community. Contact us at

See all ECAR Working Group Resources. Visit the EDUCAUSE library.