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World Community Grid moves to cloud

The virtual supercomputer allows anyone with a computer or Android device to contribute to cutting-edge research

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IBM World Community Grid in numbers
IBM World Community Grid in numbers

IBM has migrated its World Community Grid to the cloud as it continues to further its mission to support cutting-edge research into important global humanitarian issues.


The grid is a philanthropic initiative which allows anyone with a computer or Android device to contribute to scientific discovery. It has adopted IBM Cloud for 100 per cent of its infrastructure, including that which prepares the researchers’ data sets, distributes tasks to volunteer devices, validates and aggregates the results and returns the data to the researchers.


This system manages the workflow of the approximately 2.5 million virtual experiments performed by World Community Grid volunteers every day from more than 3.4 million devices.


Launched in 2004, World Community Grid creates a virtual supercomputer by leveraging unused computing power contributed by volunteers around the world to accelerate health and sustainability research. Volunteers participate in World Community Grid by downloading and installing a free software program on their computer or Android devices.


With the software, a volunteer’s device performs calculations and virtual experiments on behalf of researchers, making use of its compute power while it would be otherwise idle. The results are then transmitted back to researchers, where they are analysed and used to accelerate research into pressing global challenges from childhood cancer and the Zika virus to solar energy and clean water access.


Prior to migrating to IBM Cloud, World Community Grid was hosted at a traditional data centre. This infrastructure is responsible for dividing up research tasks among volunteer devices and then validating and assembling results for scientists as they are completed but it wanted a more flexible hosting environment that allowed it to scale more easily.


The initiative will benefit from IBM Cloud’s global footprint of more than 55 data centres across 19 countries and dedicated network to improve speed and performance for volunteers around the world. As part of the migration, World Community Grid has also adopted DevOps best practices and deployed IBM and open source automation tools such as IBM UrbanCode Deploy, which will allow it to more efficiently perform website updates, technical upgrades and monitor for system issues.


“World Community Grid makes it possible for computationally intensive research projects that would have taken years to be completed in weeks or months, and faster results means benefits are delivered sooner to patients and communities around the world,” said Jennifer Ryan Crozier, IBM vice president of corporate citizenship and president of the IBM International Foundation.


“By moving to IBM Cloud, World Community Grid is poised for years of growth and will leverage automation tools to make our development and deployment processes more efficient.”


Since its founding, World Community Grid has supported 27 research projects in critical areas including sustainable energy, clean water and ecosystem preservation. To date, World Community Grid has connected researchers to one half billion U.S. dollars’ worth of free supercomputing power.


More than 730,000 individuals and 440 institutions from 80 countries have donated more than one million years of computing time on more than three million desktops, laptops and Android mobile devices since 2004.


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