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History of WestGrid

The Multimedia Advanced Computational Infrastructure (MACI) project was founded. MACI was a collaboration among Alberta universities that ultimately identified the need for a unified computing environment.

Seven Alberta and British Columbia research institutions collaborated to create WestGrid (Western Canada Research Grid).

The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) confirmed funding for WestGrid. A committee was assembled for network planning and development, Access Grid planning and development, and HPC installation and maintenance.

WestGrid core staff and a project management team were appointed. HP, IBM and SGI were announced as vendor partners in building WestGrid’s research computing infrastructure. Computing facilities at the University of Alberta (UofA) and the University of Calgary (UofC) were opened for general use. WestGrid’s main storage facility at Simon Fraser University (SFU) became operational.

Access Grid nodes became functional at SFU, TRIUMF, UofC, University of Lethbridge (ULeth), University of British Columbia (UBC), UofA and Netera Alliance (now Cybera Inc.). WestGrid’s main visualization server was installed at SFU. All remaining WestGrid resources became available for general use.

Round two of WestGrid infrastructure acquisitions was completed. The project's capital investment increased to $50 million. WestGrid and SHARCNET established a dedicated high-speed optical link, representing a first step towards a pan-Canadian network of HPC facilities. The dedicated connection allowed researchers working at member institutions to share and transmit massive amounts of data, with virtually no constraints on bandwidth.

On May 18, 2016, WestGrid's Member Council voted unanimously in favour of incorporating WestGrid as a Canadian not-for-profit organization.

On February 9, 2017, WestGrid incorporated, with an applicant board and membership of three independent individuals. These individuals will provide governance and oversight to the organization, on behalf of the key stakeholders, while the most appropriate membership, board and other governance issues are determined. 

History of WestGrid and Compute Canada

WestGrid collaborated with six other regional HPC consortia (HPCVL, SciNet, SHARCNET, CLUMEQ, RQCHP and ACEnet) to form Compute Canada Calcul Canada. Compute Canada was awarded $60 million by the CFI under its National Platforms Fund program and $2 million/year by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Compute Canada’s first Executive Director was hired.

The seven HPC consortia were replaced by four regional divisions: WestGrid, Compute Ontario (HPCVL, SciNet, SHARCNET), Calcul Quebec (CLUMEQ and RQCHP), and ACEnet.

Compute Canada was incorporated under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations act. The new organization’s Applicant Board met and admitted 27 institutions as the first Compute Canada Members. Compute Canada’s inaugural Board of Directors was elected. Compute Canada received $30 million from the CFI for maintenance and operating funds.

November 2013
Compute Canada began a national consultation process to gather input into a five-year strategic plan to guide the organization to 2019. Compute Canada appointed Dugan O’Neil as Chief Science Officer and created a new Advisory Council on Research committee to advise the Board of Directors on critical issues affecting the Canadian research community.

March 2014
Compute Canada released its 2014-2019 Strategic Plan for a final round of community input. Mark Dietrich was appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer.

Looking Towards 2019

Over the next five years Compute Canada will expand existing services and develop new ones to meet a variety of needs and demands, including:

  • enabling more efficient and simple ways to access computational and storage resources;
  • provisioning services in a secured environment to support the management and use of confidential data; 
  • working on interoperability between systems and services; and 
  • developing solutions to make data meaningful to the researcher, the user, and the public. 

Compute Canada will itself evolve through the responsive services it provides, and will work with partner organizations to enable users across Canada to conduct research in more efficient, seamless and connected ways.