At Goddard Space Flight Center, innovation rolled in on 18 wheels. The space center has developed a cloud environment inside a 40-foot shipping container that it's using as a testbed for virtualization, storage, and networking in support of its research.
NASA Goddard is learning valuable lessons about how to use and manage cloud services and developing best practices that can be applied more broadly. It has evaluated the open source cloud stacks OpenNebula, OpenStack, and Eucalyptus, and experimented with "cloud brokers," which are used to switch among cloud services.
In a study earlier this year, NASA Goddard's IT team determined that open source cloud platforms are ready to support the on-demand provisioning of virtual machines and, in some cases, high-performance computing. But they also found that cloud "elasticity" needs further development and that more experts are needed to optimize and operate cloud infrastructure.