QCIF’s plans for 2018 and beyond

QCIF's CEO outlines our goals for the coming years, including plans to increase compute power and data storage, expand virtual laboratories, and focus on partnering on big data challenges in government, eco-science, agriculture and health.

By Dr Phil Gurney, QCIF CEO

The changing nature of research means that more than ever researchers are undertaking data-intensive analysis. But while the amount of data captured for research purposes is rapidly increasing, the ability to process it into information and insights is not keeping pace.

Bearing this in mind, QCIF has revised its strategy for 2018 and beyond, to reflect the needs and aspirations of our members, Queensland’s research-intensive universities.

With this updated strategy, QCIF aims to accelerate Queensland research and innovation, and to support researchers in becoming more productive with “big data” questions.

QCIF’s strategy focuses on three main areas: delivering solutions in the IT domain, the research domain, and building external partnerships that can support turning research outcomes into real-world applications.

In the IT domain, QCIF is probably best known for our high-performance cloud compute and storage services, and these underpin some of the most exciting research being undertaken in Queensland today.

With an exponential growth in research data, the mantra for any new investment is “limit cost, not research”, and this has already led to a number of smart ideas which we will progressively implement.

This year we will invest to expand our data storage capacity, identify opportunities to extend our compute power, and undertake a five-year capacity planning exercise to ensure that our cloud infrastructure continues to meet expectations.

In the research domain, our focus is on supporting data-intensive research disciplines of strategic importance to Queensland, and building the tools, training and services that enhance researcher productivity. Our members have prioritised bio- and eco-sciences, and have also encouraged a focus on agriculture and humanities and social sciences.

For 2018, QCIF has secured funding from the NCRIS projects Nectar, RDS and ANDS to expand the capabilities of the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Lab (BCCVL), and to extend Galaxy Queensland into a national cloud-based service delivering a suite of genomics analysis tools, making it easy for biologists to make the move into more data-intensive research areas. We are also expanding training courses, and looking to deliver more training online.

Partnerships are essential to QCIF’s work, enabling us to fund our activities, supporting the development of software tools for researchers, and delivering opportunities for research teams within our member universities to access data sets.

QCIF already has a significant network of partners, and in 2018 we are aiming to expand this further, particularly focusing on partnering on big data challenges in government, eco-science, agriculture and health. By doing so, we aim to support strong research collaborations for our member universities that lead to significant real-world outcomes. 

2018 promises to be an exciting, and challenging year for QCIF as we progress all of these activities, and we look forward to sharing our journey with you through QRISnews.

Photo credits (clockwise from top-left): The University of Queensland, Pixabay, Dr Nick Hamilton (QCIF/RCC/IMB), Pixabay.