BRACELET: Robust Cloudlet Infrastructure for Scientific Instruments’ Lifetime Connectivity

The 4CeeD tool can only function when the instrument’s operating system (OS) is Windows 7 or higher, allowing instruments to have the computational capability and network speed to be part of a distributed cloud platform, and to have all the necessary security patches to be connected to the campus network. However, more than half of the major scientific instruments on our campus and their software tools run Windows XP, Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows 3.11, and thus are set offline because they cannot operate at the network speed of a powerful cloud and are not patched with the latest security patches.

Our goal is to deploy a new infrastructure on our campus across different research laboratories that run scientific instruments with the problems described above, and develop a robust cloudlet-based infrastructure, called BRACELET, at the network edges. A cloudlet is a networked edge device and a surrogate to the real cloud, placed between the scientific instruments and cloud as the middle tier of a three-tier hierarchy: the scientific instrument, cloudlet, and cloud. As shown in Figure 1, the cloudlet will be placed within the campus building to shape and protect traffic from instruments in the campus building (e.g., MRL) to the campus node hosting the research cloud cluster. The cloudlet will play a foundational role in keeping the instrument connected throughout its lifetime (10–15 years), continuously providing the otherwise missing performance and security features for the instrument as its OS ages. Hence, BRACELET will represent an integrated three-tier infrastructure that will integrate and innovate the existing campus network, cloud, and security infrastructure with the 4CeeD data upload service and its robust cloudlet infrastructure.

BRACELET edge device will consist of two main components:

  • Performance component:
    • Has two network interfaces configured at different speeds to bridge the network performance gap between old instruments & high-speed campus network
    • Performs traffic shaping from slower to faster network
  • Security component:
    • Implement user & instrument registration
    • Enforce data encryption during upload
    • Firewall to protect against external threats

Acknowledgement: This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (award number 1659293). The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Science Foundation.