Introducing NeSI's New Solutions Manager: Blair Bethwaite
Over the last decade, Blair Bethwaite has had a front-row seat for some major evolutions in the types and applications of technologies supporting research. Through roles at Monash University and collaborations with Nectar and OpenStack, he’s personally helped usher in new research software developments, high performance computing platforms, and cloud architectures. Now, he’s joined NeSI as its new Solutions Manager, putting him in a prime position to help NeSI navigate an evolution of its own.
“It’s a pivotal moment for NeSI,” he says. “With the procurement that happened last year and the new systems having just come online, we have an opportunity to cater to both the big simulation workloads but also bring in new capabilities and be able to support up-and-coming technology as we go forward. There are some interesting possibilities around what that could look like and a hunger from the sector for a broadening of capability.”
An ex-pat New Zealander, Blair moved from Melbourne back to his hometown Christchurch in August to take on the new role with NeSI.
“We're pleased to welcome a new set of experiences and perspective to the team,” says Nick Jones, NeSI Director. “Blair’s experience in roles at institutional, national, and international levels will serve us well as we explore future strategies to support New Zealand’s research ecosystem.”
At Monash University, Blair’s roles involved high-throughput computing research, software development, as well as application and user support. He also designed and built the current generation of MASSIVE, Australia’s specialised high performance computing facility for imaging and visualisation - a collaboration between Monash University, CSIRO, the Australian Synchrotron, the ARC CoE in Integrative Brain Function, and the ARC CoE in Advanced Molecular Imaging. With MASSIVE, Blair successfully pioneered the operation of a specialised HPC capability atop OpenStack whilst simultaneously integrating and productionising new developments in GPU and interconnect technology.
He made his first forays into scientific cloud computing in 2010 to support high-throughput applications, and when the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (Nectar) project was announced in Australia, Blair got involved on the ground floor.
“I was privileged to be involved with some of the technical choices that set the scene, and subsequently with Monash’s proposal to become a Node as part of that national platform,” he says. “I’m hoping that my experience there and connections here will also open up some possibilities for collaborations on what we’re thinking about doing in New Zealand.”
As use of cloud has grown within the eResearch sector, it‘s become a top focus for Blair as well. He is currently a co-chair of OpenStack’s Scientific Special Interest Group (SIG), an international group dedicated to representing and advancing the use-cases and needs of research and high performance computing with OpenStack.
As Solutions Manager for NeSI, Blair says he’s looking forward to learning more about the existing collaborations, partnerships, and strategies within NZ’s research ecosystem. A common thread between Australia and NZ, he says, is that each country’s eResearch sector is still growing, so there’s a wide range of users to support, from experienced early adopters to those completely new to the tools.
“We see a very big continuum of capability and that’s a very interesting challenge to support,” he says.
If you have questions about NeSI’s new platform or would like to meet with Blair and talk about how NeSI’s solutions can support your research, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.