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One of the challenges of high-performance computing (HPC) is user accessibility. At the Cornell University Computational Biology Service Unit, which is also a Microsoft HPC institute, we have developed a computational biology application suite that allows researchers from biological laboratories to submit their jobs to the parallel cluster through an easy-to-use Web interface. Through this system, we are providing users with popular bioinformatics tools including BLAST, HMMER, InterproScan, and MrBayes. The system is flexible and can be easily customized to include other software. It is also scalable; the installation on our servers currently processes approximately 8500 job submissions per year, many of them requiring massively parallel computations. It also has a built-in user management system, which can limit software and/or database access to specified users. TAIR, the major database of the plant model organism Arabidopsis, and SGN, the international tomato genome database, are both using our system for storage and data analysis.
The system consists of a Web server running the interface (ASP.NET C#), Microsoft SQL server (ADO.NET), compute cluster running Microsoft Windows, ftp server, and file server. Users can interact with their jobs and data via a Web browser, ftp, or e-mail. The interface is accessible at http://cbsuapps.tc.cornell.edu/.