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The Nimbus Infrastrucure, then and now

Sep 22, 2020

Nimbus Infrastructure was one of the first open source implementations of the concept of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) with the production release of the first component, the Workspace Service, released in mid-2005. Overtime, the system grew to add an implementation of a scalable quota-based storage cloud, contextualization tools, allowing users to configure “one click” virtual clusters, as well as a variety of tools creating and managing configurations distributed over multiple clouds, and adapting them to the needs of the scientific community. Nimbus software was used to configure multiple research clouds (FutureGrid being the most prominent example) as well as enable a variety of scientific applications.

While pioneering and committed to a quality implementation, Nimbus remained primarily a research project. In the early 2010s, the OpenStack IaaS cloud implementation emerged as a viable alternative to Nimbus, with strong support from the open source community. To better leverage the momentum behind cloud-related development, the Nimbus team transitioned to become an OpenStack contributor, always advocating the needs of the scientific community, and significantly contributing to OpenStack services such as Blazar reflecting our community’s requirements.

Today, the Nimbus team leads the operation of the Chameleon research cloud, an OpenStack-based testbed for computer science systems research. While the Nimbus project is no longer under active development, the Nimbus team continues to drive science-related features into cloud computing development via contributions in research, development, and operations. Aside from operating the Chameleon testbed, the Nimbus team actively contributes to exploring topics such as auto-scaling, preemptible workloads, and the use of clouds to advance reproducibility in science. To further advance the study of cloud computing, we make available traces from the Chameleon research cloud as well as tools that can be used to obtain similar traces in any OpenStack cloud at our Science Clouds site.

Since the Nimbus project itself is no longer active we have archived the code and documentation; they are however preserved and accessible on the Nimbus GitHub organization and our papers are available here.