January 29, 2013

TCG’s NITRC Team Launches Cloud-Based Science Research Platform on Amazon Web Services Marketplace

NITRC-CE Eliminates the Digital Divide among Research Institutions

Washington, DC, January 29, 2013: TCG announced today that the Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse Computational Environment (NITRC-CE) is now available on the Amazon Web Services Marketplace. NITRC-CE offers neuroscience researchers the convenience, speed, and savings of cloud-based computing against public and private neuroinformatics data sets. 

TCG’s NITRC team developed NITRC-CE to support neuroscientists wishing to pay only for the computational power needed to do their research, and scale the computational resources needed to the size of the research challenge at hand. Using the computational power of the Amazon cloud, NITRC-CE helps minimize the digital divide between researchers at institutions with high performance compute services and those with more modest resources and budgets.

For example, in real-world processing tests, the NITRC-CE team found that a representative computation1 that would have taken 24 hours on a high-powered desktop took 25% of the time (8 hours) at a cost of only $4.

Funded by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institute of Drug Addiction, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NITRC is an award-winning, user-friendly collaboration environment for the neuroinformatics community. NITRC gives researchers around the world easy access to software tools and data. Most of the resources are free, and many have communities of interest associated with them, allowing researchers to share advice and ideas for use of the data and tools, and to collaborate in improving them.

NIH awarded the contract to design, develop, and operate NITRC in 2006. Since then, two enhanced services have been added: NITRC Image Repository (NITRC-IR), which offers a select set of community-generated neuroimaging data sets, and now NITRC-CE.

One of 11 listings in the Business Software, High Performance Computing category, NITRC-CE (built using NeuroDebian) is an on-demand, cloud based computational virtual machine pre-installed with popular NITRC neuroimaging tools such as ants, mrtrix, r‑base‑R statistical package, neurodebian-popularity-contest, mricron, and over a 35 FSL, AFNI, and Python packages. In addition to the Amazon Web Services Marketplace, NITRC-CE is also available via public Amazon Machine Interface (AMI). 

“NITRC-CE represents a very important step in expanding NITRC’s capability,” said TCG president Dan Turner. “I’m proud of our team’s effort in developing a service that capitalizes on the power of cloud computing to allow the research community to save time and money, and help accelerate neuroinformatics research.”

David N. Kennedy, Ph.D., who is a member of TCG’s NITRC team and serves as NITRC’s Customer Liaison noted, “I am really excited about the potential for cloud computing enabled by the NITRC Computational Environment.  This is a new computational paradigm that has the potential to bring high-performance computing to everyone in the field.” Dr. Kennedy is Director of the Division of Neuroinformatics at the Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopment Initiative (CANDI) and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Although the Amazon Web Services Marketplace is set up for companies to mark up their compute time for profit, the NITRC team will not be doing so as the development of NITRC-CE was funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, GSA contract No. GS-00F-00F-0034P, Order Number HHSN268201100090U.

About TCG
TCG (https://stage.tcg.com) is an award-winning small business that specializes in tailored information technology solutions and advisory services with a particular focus on grants management, collaboration platforms, and budget formulation and execution. TCG transforms information technology infrastructures and inconsistent processes to integrated environments built on reusable functionality, consistent business processes, and interoperable infrastructures. The multiple awards that TCG and its clients have received demonstrate the benefits of using best practices such as CMMI, ITIL, and PMBOK to meet complex technology and management needs.

TCG’s company goal is to save the US taxpayer $1 billion by 2016. So far the company has saved the government in excess of $265 million by automating once-costly processes, using time-saving and money-saving processes in developing code, helping the government restructure its business processes, and paying careful attention to the company’s own expenses on contracts.

David G. Cassidy
Vice President
Tel: 202–742-8471

1The example used was a FSL voxel-based morphometry (VBM) computation on 64 subjects from the CANDIShare data release. The desktop was a 2.8 GhZ Intel Xeon Mac. This was compared to NITRC-CE running the Amazon Large Instance (m1.large), using the SGE parallelization over 4 cores.