Simulation technology heads for the cloud

NASA taps Parabon to develop Web-based simulation technology

The price tag might be small, but the effect could be groundbreaking as Parabon Corp. takes on a NASA project to develop simulation technology that can served up through any standard Web browser.

Under a two-year, $600,000 Small Business Innovation Research award, Parabon, of Reston, Va., will use its grid computing software, Frontier Grid Platform, to build a modeling and simulation as a service model, which it is calling M&SaaS.

The company says it will be a first of its kind software service and will let scientists and engineers to develop, execute and collaborate on modeling and simulation applications via a Web browser.

“M&SaaS has the potential to revolutionize how scientific software is designed, developed, deployed and used,” said Mike Seablom, who leads the software integration and visualization office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The tools Parabon will make available through the Web include a browser-based source code editor, online collaboration utilities, and virtualized build and runtime environment management interfaces.

Because it is accessible to any Web browser, the platform should let researchers collaborate in ways that were not possible before.

“The fact that this solution is accessible from the browser means anyone anywhere will be able to help contribute to our understanding of Earth system science,” Seablom said.

Many of NASA’s research projects rely on modeling and simulation and not direct experimentation. For example, For example, climatologists rely heavily on atmospheric models to assess the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions.

Parabon also sees demand for this kind of software service, including defense, finance and pharmaceutical research, the company said.

“We’re confident that the capabilities developed under this project will forever transform the way modeling and simulation is practiced,” said Steven Armentrout, Parabon president and chief executive officer. “It’s a perfect example of what can be accomplished by combining our extensive grid computing capabilities with recent advances in cloud computing and other online service-oriented technologies.”

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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