November 13, 2012
Nov. 13 – Globus Online announced today a new file sharing service that makes it easy for researchers to securely share their data with collaborators. The sharing service builds on Globus Online’s reliable high-performance file transfer software-as-a-service (SaaS) and allows large data sets to be shared without requiring complex software or moving the data to expensive cloud storage.
Globus Online will enable data on existing storage systems to be easily shared with users at multiple institutions. The service will provide researchers complete control over which Globus Online users can access their data and the level of access that is permitted. It is currently undergoing final testing and will be made available in early 2013.
The service will utilize updated versions of Globus Connect and GridFTP to connect a storage system to the Globus Online cloud, and the same logical endpoint structure currently used by Globus Online for transferring files. This means that system administrators need only change a configuration option to enable sharing for their users on their endpoints—and can further control which of their local folders and users are permitted for sharing.
Sharing will be offered as part of a new Globus Online Plus plan that incorporates additional features such as peer-to-peer file transfer, which enables reliable file transfer between any two Globus Online endpoints, including desktops and laptops, even if they are behind a network address translation (NAT) service.
The Globus Online sharing service complements the multitude of cloud storage and sharing services currently available. Services like Dropbox™ are widely used by researchers for sharing individual files and gigabyte-sized data sets, but they are not well suited to scientific data whose size routinely exceeds hundreds of gigabytes to terabytes, and spans thousands—or even millions—of files. At this scale, such services become prohibitively expensive, due to storage and data transfer costs—and cumbersome, as they require data to be moved into the cloud order to share it. “We identified a need among collaborative research groups to share increasingly large volumes of data across multiple institutions,” said Steve Tuecke, project lead for Globus Online. “Existing file sharing services are not capable of addressing this need cost effectively and with high performance, forcing researchers to either craft their own custom solution—assuming they have the technical expertise and funding to do so—or compromise the effectiveness of their research.”
Globus Online is also making available a full-featured group management service that enables researchers to define groups and use those groups as a means for efficiently sharing data across teams that span multiple organizations. A researcher can invite collaborators to join a group and once the invitation is accepted, any data shared with the group is instantly available to all members of the group, without requiring them to have accounts on the storage resource where the data resides. Globus Online provides multiple levels of security to verify a user’s identity before making shared data available, and resource owners have full control over both the data that may be shared and the permissions that may be granted to external users.
The Globus Online team is committed to providing the current file transfer service free of charge for all users. The Plus plan—which includes sharing and peer-to-peer transfers, among other features—will cost $7 per month, or $70 per year, for individual users, with lower per-user prices available for larger groups. Globus Online is developed and operated as a non-profit service by University of Chicago, with the mission to serve researchers at universities and other non-profit institutions. All funds raised by the Plus plan will be used to support operations, with the objective of making Globus Online a self-sustaining service.
Over the past four years, development of Globus Online has been funded by grants from multiple agencies, including the National Science Foundation, The Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health, as well as support from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. While core research by the Globus Online team continues to be funded by these institutions, the growing operational and support costs are not covered by such grants. “We take very seriously the need to sustain Globus Online operations without direct support from federal grants,” said Ian Foster, principal investigator for Globus Online. “Since the project’s inception our objective has been to create a sustainable service for researchers that is not subject to the uncertainty of traditional research funding sources. We believe that a nominal charge to partially cover operating costs moves us along the path to sustainability.”
Globus Online currently has almost 7,000 registered users and has been used to transfer over 8 petabytes (1 x 1015) of data since its initial launch two years ago.
About Globus Online
Globus Online is software-as-a-service for research data management. Globus Online provides a reliable, high-performance file transfer service for easily and securely moving big data between resources, such as supercomputing facilities, cloud storage systems, campus clusters, lab servers, or personal computers. The service also enables data on existing storage systems to be shared with users at multiple organizations, without specialized software or expensive cloud storage. Designed specifically for researchers, Globus Online is recommended by dozens of institutions and high-performance computing facilities worldwide. Globus Online is an initiative by the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, and is supported in part by funding from the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.
Source: Globus Online
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