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NSTC releases blueprint for COVID-inspired National Strategic Computing Reserve

The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has released a report outlining a federal proposal for establishing a National Strategic Computing Reserve (NSCR), an idea inspired by the experience of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing (HPC) Consortium. An NSCR would have a role analogous to that of the U.S. Merchant Marine, marshaling the United States’ HPC resources to respond swiftly and powerfully to national and global crises.

The October 2021 "blueprint" report was prepared by NSTC’s Subcommittee on Networking and Information Technology Research and Development and its Subcommittee on Future Advanced Computing Ecosystems, incorporating the responses to a request for information (RFI) issued by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) last December that solicited “potential concepts and approaches for a National Strategic Computing Reserve.”

The idea of the NSCR draws heavily on the experience of the COVID-19 HPC Consortium, whose 43 members include federal laboratories, universities, and industry players like IBM. The COVID-19 HPC Consortium has supported more than 100 projects with an aggregate computing power exceeding 600 petaflops. The authors of the blueprint report combined this COVID-19 HPC Consortium experience with the responses to the RFI, which asked respondents about everything from how and when an NSCR should be activated to how an NSCR should engage in community outreach and communications.

The RFI, the authors revealed, received responses from seven organizations and individuals, including the executive committee for the COVID-19 HPC Consortium; the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; HPE; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, among others.

The blueprint report details eight principal functions for an NSCR:

1. Establishing clear policies, processes, and procedures for activating and operating the NSCR in times of crisis;

2. Recruiting and sustaining a group of advanced computing and data resource and service provider members in government, industry, and academia;

3. Developing relevant agreements with members, including provisions for augmented capacity and/or cost reimbursement for deployable resources, for the urgent deployment of computing and supporting resources and services, and for provision of incentives for non-emergency participation;

4. Developing methods and tools for making critical proprietary datasets securely available to compute platforms and researchers when needed;

5. Developing a set of agreements to enable the NSCR to collaborate with Federal agencies and industries in preparation for and execution of NSCR deployments;

6. Executing a series of preparedness exercises with some recurring frequency to test and maintain the NSCR;

7. During a crisis,
* Executing procedures to receive project proposals and review and prioritize projects and to allocate computing resources to approved projects;
* Tracking project progress and disseminating products (including software and data) and outputs to ensure effective use and impact; and
* Participating in the broader national response as an active partner; and

8. Following a crisis,
* Managing the return to normal operations of the involved resources;
* Implementing changes from post-crisis lessons learned; and
* Documenting experiences and outcomes.

The NSCR would include a variety of resource providers supplying everything from access to supercomputers or cloud resources to access to software stacks and datasets. The blueprint recommends the establishment of an NSCR Program Office to coordinate both the resource providers and the users.

The report estimates that this program office would cost around two million dollars a year. Developing and deploying an integrated cyberinfrastructure platform to support the dynamic federation and distribution of resources across the stakeholders in the NSCR, meanwhile, is estimated at another two million dollars per year. These estimates do not include the costs of resource acquisition, which would be entirely dependent on the quantity of resources procured.

Read more from HPCwire: https://www.hpcwire.com/2021/10/12/the-blueprint-for-the-national-strate...

Read the report: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/National-Strategic...

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