South African CHPC National Conference: Connecting, Engaging, and Securing Earth’s Quietest Places

The header image was captured over a 24-hour interval—throughout all time zones—by a U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite tv for pc. It illustrates why South Africa (SA) is particular from a analysis perspective, and doubtlessly weak from e-infrastructure and cybersecurity standpoints. The brightest cluster of dots in southern Africa surrounds SA’s largest metropolis, Johannesburg, and close by Pretoria which is the executive seat and residential to the SA authorities’s government department.

Happy Sithole. Photo by Lawrette McFarlane

Happy Sithole, who directs the SA Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC), referred to as the 13th annual CHPC National convention to order on December 1, 2019 on the Birchwood Conference Centre in Kempton Park, Johannesburg. This occasion, which centered on cybersecurity and making ready the workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, drew 667 attendees who discovered about cybersecurity dangers and gained new protection methods.

After founding and managing the CHPC for ten years, Dr. Sithole was promoted in 2019 by SA authorities management to steer a a lot bigger portfolio, together with the National Integrated CI System (NICIS) umbrella of companies, together with the CHPC, the South African National Research Network (SANReN) and the Data Intensive Research Initiative of SA (DIRISA).

In his opening remarks, Sithole defined that CHPC clients had been as soon as a homogeneous group, however profitable efforts to broaden engagement with extra communities of observe— together with authorities, academia, trade, and worldwide collaborators—have created contemporary safety challenges.

He additionally famous that boundaries to engagement with HPC have been too steep. “It’s difficult to engage scientists from more domains without requiring them to know how to write a bunch of code,” he mentioned, and added, “We’re supporting an increased number of applications that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) workflows, which create greater demand for facilitators who understand AI, and how to optimize a broader range of software applications so they run efficiently on Lengau,” he mentioned, referring to CHPC’s flagship petascale system. Sithole defined how person wants will drive specs for Lengau’s alternative, which was initially deliberate for 2022, however COVID-associated price range cuts could delay that timeline.

Conference Theme: Secure Cyberinfrastructure Within Fast-Converging Platforms

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region includes 16 member nations that, in keeping with the SADC web site, “share a vision for equitable economic growth and socioeconomic development, through efficient, productive systems, deeper cooperation and integration, good governance, and durable peace and security.” The annual SADC HPC Forum (coated partly three of this collection) is co-located with the CHPC Conference.

Meshack Ndala (CHPC); Photo by CHPC.

Cybercrime will be launched from any level on earth and the origin is commonly spoofed to frustrate detection, and it occurs shortly. It is extraordinarily tough to research and prosecute with out laws that considers the borderless nature of the crime, and lively cooperation amongst worldwide policing companies. Therefore, cybersecurity is of rising significance to SADC.

A cybersecurity workshop has been co-located with this convention for 3 years, and Meshack Ndala (CHPC Cybersecurity Specialist) is the facilitator. This 12 months’s included a technical program titled, “Security by Design; Flaws in IoT Architectures,” and a research-focused session titled, “Intelligence and Strategy.”

Presenters emphasised the significance of public-private partnerships and schooling. “One of the biggest risks we face is the lack of awareness,” mentioned Ndala who defined why first-responder coaching is so necessary. “Computers and mobile phones carry clues to solving cybercrime; law enforcement must understand why and how such evidence should be secured so that it is admissible in court,” he added.

Cybersecurity workshop presenters and panelists, from left: Richard Hlalele (Info. Security at U-Johannesburg); ADV Jacqueline Fick (CEO VizStrat Solutions); Noelle Van Der Wagg-Cowling (Cyber-Strategy Lecturer, Stellenbosch U); Dimakatso Tlhako (IT Link Systems); Professor Petrus Duvenage (Centre for Cyber Security, Academy of Computer Science and Software Engineering at U-Johannesburg); Professor Elmarie Biermann (Director, Cyber-Security Institute and Professor at Stellenbosch U). Photo by Meshack Ndala (CHPC).

SANReN’s Cybersecurity Incident Response Team (CSIRT) additionally sponsored a cybersecurity coaching program that week. Thirty members, together with 14 college and 10 skilled workers from science councils and analysis institutes attended GÉANT’s TRANSITS I coaching, the place they discovered about organizational, operational, authorized, and technical challenges of managing a Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT). Wim Biemolt (SURFnet) introduced the operational module, and Jeffeny Hoogevorst (Secuenzo) led a role-playing train and introduced technical and authorized coaching classes. International authorized experience was shared by Anton Kotze (Ellipsis), and an organizational safety session was carried out by SANReN CSIRT workers. The Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa (TENET), which operates the SANReN community, sponsored a TRANSITS networking dinner.

SKA updates, and the standing of analysis and schooling networks

The NASA cowl picture illustrates why probably the most superior expertise undertaking ever conceived is being co-hosted within the SA Karoo area, and Western Australia’s Murchison Shire. These are two of probably the most ‘radio quiet’ locations on earth, and residential to the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) undertaking with, in keeping with the SKA web site,” hundreds of dishes, and as much as one million low-frequency antennas that may allow astronomers to observe the sky in unprecedented element and survey the complete sky a lot sooner than any system at the moment in existence.” Preparing for the SKA’s 50-year lifespan has led to an elevated effort to coach the indigenous workforce in SKA “readiness” websites. Eighteen knowledge facilities in a dozen nations at the moment take part within the African HPC Ecosystems undertaking led by South Africa’s CHPC ACE Lab Trainer Bryan Johnston.

Matias Carrasco-Kind (NCSA-US). Photo by Lawrette McFarlane

Naturally, the worldwide astronomy and astrophysics communities are tuned into SKA-inspired technological enhancements and associated analysis, and convention audio system have begun to mirror their pursuits.

Senior Research and Data Scientist Matias Carrasco-Kind (US National Center for Supercomputing Applications, NCSA) introduced on the subject of AI challenges for giant survey science, with mentions to SKA and The Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) in Chile.

While the Rubin Observatory LSST is an optical telescope—vs. radio within the case of the SKA—there can be some extent at which scientific communities might want to evaluate various kinds of knowledge sources from the identical or associated astronomical occasions. While the U.S. will not be one of many 13 nations which have invested within the SKA, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) helps 9 radio, optical and photo voltaic telescopes that are all utilized by the identical international communities of observe.

Since the SKA will produce extra knowledge than some other expertise undertaking on earth—with peak knowledge era estimated to happen in 2022—vital investments and nice effort have been undertaken to enhance land-based networks out and in of the area.

SANReN Director Leon Staphorst (left) and NORDUNeT Director Josva Kleist (proper). Photo by Lawrette McFarlane.

Keynote Josva Kleist (NORDUNet) introduced on the subject of SANReN and community enhancements all through the area, and past.

The SA Cable System (SACS) between Brazil and Angola (additionally supported by the US-NSF) was accomplished in 2019.  In March 2020 AmLight Express and Protect, a undertaking led by the Center for Internet Augmented Research and Assessment (CIARA) at Florida International University) with help from the Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa (RNP, the Brazilian NREN), introduced that service interconnecting the U.S., Brazil and SA with 100Gbps end-to-end hyperlinks was in full manufacturing.

SANReN and TENET participated within the AmLight-SACS initiative. SANReN’s contribution was to activate a 100Gbps circuit between Angola and SA on the submarine West African Cable System (WACS), in trade for a 100Gbps circuit on the SACS cable from Angola to Brazil and 100Gbps circuit on the MONET cable from Brazil to the US.

All analysis and schooling community site visitors from SA destined to the Americas is now routed by way of the AmLight-SACS connection. In the previous, knowledge from the southern hemisphere needed to first journey north to the U.S. or Europe earlier than arriving in both South America or Africa. It was essential to navigate dozens of Internet Exchange Sites and/or permissions alongside the best way—a course of that would take days or even weeks, relying on the quantity of knowledge being transferred.

Amlight-SACS shortly demonstrated its worth. On January 16, 2020, there was a freak incident the place each SAT-Three and WACS had been reduce concurrently; repairs required one month to finish throughout which period web site visitors was noticeably gradual for a lot of South Africans. Then on March 27, the WACS between Portugal and the UK was severed. By then, nonetheless, the Amlight-SACS’ 100Gbps pathway provided an alternate route, and repairs had been accomplished by April 6 so fewer seen the slow-down. While under-water fiber cuts are sometimes the results of fishing exercise, in keeping with the Submarine Telecoms Forum, it’s believable to think about that they might turn out to be focused by cyberterrorists. Whether an outage is because of a malicious act or by chance, redundancy is a critically necessary facet of each service continuity plan.

Once SA knowledge travels to Europe, a collection of interfederated networks take over, together with NORDUNet—the analysis and schooling community that serves the northernmost area of Europe and past in an equally darkish area on the NASA picture. Kleist defined the historical past and repair supplied in a spot, “where reindeer and bears outnumber humans.”

NORDUNet has a 25-year historical past and serves 1.2 million customers that comprise the world’s tenth largest financial system. Its footprint closes an necessary topological ring for international community site visitors. Among an inventory of energy customers within the rapid area, NORDUNet facilitates knowledge generated by the European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association (EISCAT) and associated tasks, together with EISCAT-3D (next-gen radar, to be inbuilt 2021 after a 10-year design and preparation section; supported by the European Union, EU). This can be a phased-array radar—probably the most highly effective thus far. From a September 2017 release, the instrument “will measure 3D volume of the upper atmosphere in unprecedented detail providing a greater understanding of how energy particles and electrical currents from space affect both upper and lower atmosphere (space weather and auroral phenomena), as well as man-made technologies, such as satellites and power grids on the ground.”

From its web site, “EISCAT operates three incoherent scatter radar systems (at 224 MHz, 931 MHz in Northern Scandinavia, and one at 500 MHz in Svalbard) that are used to study the interaction between the sun and the Earth as revealed by disturbances in the ionosphere and magnetosphere.” It can even assess low-earth orbit particles (aka area junk) at altitudes of 500 to 1500 km, all the way down to 2 cm in measurement. EISCAT is funded and operated by analysis institutes and councils of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Japan, China, and the UK (EISCAT Associates). Institutes in different nations contribute to operations, together with Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and South Korea.

As for its compute wants, Kleist mentioned they’re nonetheless within the planning section. “It’s likely that EISCAT3D will co-locate computation with an existing HPC center (or several),” he mentioned. He went on to clarify that polar areas are nice locations to host HPC techniques. They create their very own warmth and due to this fact have a decreased Co2 affect. He additionally talked about the pan-European, pre-exascale supercomputer LUMI EuroHPC (2021-2026) being inbuilt an previous Finnish papermill (powered by hydroelectricity with redundant back-up) with a €207 million funding funded by the EU and consortium nations.

Thank you sponsors; keep tuned!  

The CHPC National Conference and its organizers, audio system and delegates want to thank the beneficiant sponsors who made this 12 months’s occasion doable: Diamond Sponsor Intel, and others, together with Altair, Dell/EMC, Boston Storage, AMD, HP, Schrodinger, and Mellanox. Dr. Sithole additionally thanked CHPC convention planners: Dr. Werner Janse van Rensburg, Kevin Colville, Lesley Fredericks, Noxolo Moyake, Meshack Ndala, and others.

There are too many nice issues taking place in SA to cowl in a single characteristic. Watch HPCwire for the second and third installations of this three-part collection. The third will embrace full particulars concerning the CHPC20 National Conference; keep tuned!

About the Author

HPCwire Contributing Editor Elizabeth Leake is a marketing consultant, correspondent and advocate who serves the worldwide excessive efficiency computing (HPC) and knowledge science industries. In 2012, she based STEM-Trek, a world, grassroots nonprofit group that helps workforce growth alternatives for science, expertise, engineering and arithmetic (STEM) students from underserved areas and underrepresented teams.

As a program director, Leake has mentored tons of of early-career professionals who’re breaking cultural boundaries in an effort to speed up scientific and engineering discoveries. Her multinational applications have particular themes that resonate with international stakeholders, resembling meals safety knowledge science, blockchain for social good, cybersecurity/threat mitigation, and extra. As a convention blogger and communicator, her work drew recognition when STEM-Trek obtained the 2016 and 2017 HPCwire Editors’ Choice Awards for Workforce Diversity Leadership.


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