iPlant’s Big Data Bridges the Atlantic

Shelley Littin and Robert Dawson, Robert J. Long, NearsightGraphite illustration

High-performance cyber infrastructure is crossing the Atlantic, thanks to a partnership between the UA-led iPlant Collaborative, scientists at three United Kingdom universities, and The Genome Analysis Centre in Norwich, U.K.

The initiative known as iPlant UK, which will extend into the United Kingdom the data storage and analytical platforms provided by the iPlant Collaborative, recently was funded at £1.8 million (about $2.7 million) by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

The iPlant Collaborative is a virtual organization funded by the National Science Foundation to provide big data computational capacity for life science research.

Harnessing the power of some of the world’s fastest supercomputers, iPlant provides huge cloud-based storage space and a virtual lab bench, which puts global life science data and online tools in one place. Users can share datasets and tools to analyze data with as many or as few people as they wish. Tools to analyze data, developed by iPlant staff and others, can be shared with the wider community in a similar manner to smartphone apps.

In less than 10 years, the iPlant Collaborative has grown to serve the data storage and analysis needs of more than 18,500 users.