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Thursday, 28 February 2019 15:59

Vault, UTS and CSIRO to work on AI-capable cloud for govt data

Vault, UTS and CSIRO to work on AI-capable cloud for govt data Image by wynpnt on Pixabay

Australian Signals Directorate-certified Protected cloud provider Vault has announced a collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney and the CSIRO SME Connect office to give a boost to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Research carried out as part of the collaboration will offer Vault's customers a high-performance cloud that can provide diverse AI, machine learning, deep learning, high-performance computing and accelerated computing workloads, while offering an ASD-certified cloud service.

Dr Maruf Ahmed of Vault and Dr Farookh Khadeer Hussain, a cloud computing expert from UTS School of Software, UTS Faculty of Engineering and IT, will head the research effort.

Vault uses the open-source OpenStack architecture and any enhancements developed will be built into the company's cloud offering.

The CSIRO, UTS and Vault will together contribute more than $500,000 to pay for the research grant and additional hardware over the three-year duration of the research.

“As the government invests in cloud migration, there will be significant value in being able to analyse data stored in the cloud. Vault is committed to to do this securely, efficiently and while ensuring citizen privacy expectations are met,” said Rupert Taylor-Price, the founder and chief executive of Vault.

“Many Australians don’t realise that most advanced AI capability of large cloud providers is hosted overseas and can be subject to foreign law. This announcement is a major step towards enhancing Australia’s sovereign capability and protecting Australians.”

Dr Ahmed will work with the software layers that provide access to this accelerated hardware.

“Cloud technology and data security have always been a fascination of mine. As more data moves to a cloud environment, privacy, security, and sovereignty should become a major focal point,” he said.

“My research here at Vault seeks to uncover new ways of maximising software, like OpenStack, to provide quicker data analytics and solutions than previously possible on an ASD-certified Protected cloud."

The collaboration also aims to engineer a fully automated deployment of the Vault architecture in a virtualised environment. The challenge Dr Ahmed faces will be to use advanced bypass mechanisms in the Linux kernel to remove software layers and provide more direct access to the storage, network and computer hardware.

Last year, Vault worked with NVIDIA to release the beta of its latest generation AI-capable hardware, which included Tesla V100 GPUs – an Australian cloud first.

“Vault customers get access to the full performance of NVIDIA’s latest platform for machine learning workloads,” said Christoph Dwertmann, chief technology officer at Vault Cloud.

Jason Barkla of CSIRO said: “Investing in new technologies and leading-edge translational research is vital if Australia wants to be at the forefront of global innovation.

“While private organisations are constantly looking at ways to speed up the way data can be analysed on the cloud, the research conducted by Dr Ahmed and Vault with the support of a Science and Industry Endowment Fund STEM⁺Business Fellowship grant will be integral to achieving this.”

Dr Ahmed will work out of the Vault Canberra office and Customer Experience Centre, which was opened on 5 November 2018. Vault is one of six cloud providers certified to store Australian Government data which is classified at the highest level.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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