System Dynamics Going Cloud With Veesp

December 13, 2018

Nowadays our world is becoming more and more complicated. Science and technics are actively moving forward in evolving technologies and increasing our knowledge in many existing areas, giving them a deeper understanding, and also opening new areas and spreading our horizons. Complexity and diversity of our world required highly efficient research tools to continue pushing our limits. One of the key approaches in a baseline of almost any modern achievement is modeling.

This is a guest post by Ivan Perl, the founder of the sdCloud project which is now hosted in the Veesp data center. At Veesp we really love scientific, innovative and socially useful startups. Check out our Startup Program.

Modeling allows to look at the problem under a variety of different angles, investigate its behavior in hundreds and thousands of combinations of different internal and external conditions. Today it is almost impossible to imagine the development of a new complicated system or performing a big research without the use of some kind of modeling.

Looking back and analyzing the history of human thinking, we can see that this can be treated as a history of modeling instruments and approaches evolution, which were invented to understand, analyze and adapt the world for people's needs. When an ancient man was resting in the forest and was planning his next hunt - this was already the first thought experiment and this was nothing else but the first thought modeling of upcoming conditions and circumstances. 

Over the time comprehension instruments and understanding of surrounding reality evolved and became much more mature. The scale of research works growth and to solve them it was already not enough to have one man thinking about a problem. Pops up a need to formalize more and more complicated processes and involve more and more scientists to solve them.  This gave impetus to the development of analytical modeling, people started using formulas, precisely describing processes and this allows to share information and to collaborate efficiently with each other. 

But a process of growing world complexity started long ago continued and its speed grows constantly and this leads to growing complexity of analytics models what makes them almost unsolvable manually. Here a new generation of modeling comes up - computer modeling. Usage of computers significantly pushes boundaries for scientists and opens new horizons of scale and research complexity, precision and detailization level of systems, events and processes they can operate with. 

Today, in the era of cloud technologies, efficient communications and high data availability computer modeling can't stay aside. Our project, called sdCloud, started in 2015, which goal is to create a cloud-based free and open modeling platform for system dynamics, for the past few years continuously delivering new features and services to scientists, students and teachers working in the area of system dynamics. Evolution of our project is going in both directions quantitative and qualitative. On the one hand, we are introducing new services and functionality to our end-users and on the other, we are growing our computation capacities to server all requests in a reasonable time and with good quality level. 

One of the distinctive features of the cloud solution is a high concentration of computational resources, providing services all around the world in one place - data center. Data center maintenance and keeping it in a good shape is a complex task, requiring proper qualification and experience from the crew. We, like many other teams, working on a software solution, do not have the required expertise to run a data center in a production state. With a growing number of users and amount of equipment, we need to maintain we decided that our ream needs help with running and maintaining our environment and we need to find real professionals for this. 

Project sdCloud was started in 2015 by a small group of students from ITMO University and in the middle of 2017 first public version was released to production and became available on our official website. Since this moment, the project is rapidly growing and now became an international research project involving master and Ph.D. students from Russia, India, Brazil and the United States. System Dynamics approach, implemented by the developed platform, allows solving a wide range of problems in a variety of areas including management, economics, resources management and monitoring of complicated systems. This allows growing our project not only by extending the development of the platform itself but also by starting a research project based on our solution where scientists performing researches in their domains. 

At the beginning of our path, project lab has only one desktop PC which holds both test and production environments and first production deployment available to users was hosted on this machine. Nowadays lab was significantly expanded and consists of about twenty modern servers which are configured and precisely tuned for solving tasks related to modeling and processing of big data. Taking into account this growth of project equipment proper management and handling of equipment aspects became one of the most important topics in project development and maintenance plans. 

After looking at our project, mission, goals and requirements experts from Veesp decided to support our project and agreed to deploy our computation capacities in their data center in Saint-Petersburg. Passing our equipment to professionals allows us to free up a certain amount of resources which we are targeting now to the development of new features and services for our users, friends, and followers and also leads to the increased availability and stability of our solution. 

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