Frequently Asked Questions

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When will the CMU Cloud Lab be up and running?

The goal is to have the CMU Cloud Lab operational in the fall of 2022.

How will research on a Cloud Lab be different than research in a traditional wet lab?
In a traditional wet lab, a limited amount of instrumentation is used and maintained by researchers during normal work hours. In a Cloud Lab, hundreds of pieces of scientific instrumentation are run 24/7/365 and maintained on a rigorous schedule by trained operators; users of the Cloud Lab request their experiments remotely and typically receive their data back within one day.

Research from a traditional lab can be replicated on a Cloud Lab, but much more can be done with a Cloud Lab. CMU is working to integrate data and protocol sharing platforms (e.g., Lab Archives, KiltHub, with our Cloud Lab operations to allow researchers to more seamlessly integrate research and information from all platforms and multiple team members. Learn more about these tools on our Training page.

Are there any limits on what can and cannot be done in the Cloud Lab in terms of science (e.g., radioactive experiments, BSL-3 type work, human tissue samples, etc.)?

The Emerald Cloud Lab facility is and the CMU Cloud Lab will be BSL-2 facilities with no equipment appropriate for radioactive work. If there is a strong interest from the CMU community to expand these capabilities, that can be considered as part of future growth plans. All samples sent to a Cloud Lab must be labeled accurately and have MSDS information provided. The primary goal of the full trainings for using the Cloud Lab is to enable researchers to use the facility in a manner that ensures the safety of everyone involved.

What instruments will be part of the CMU Cloud Lab?

The CMU Cloud Lab will initially offer access to hundreds of pieces of scientific equipment, largely relevant to research in chemistry and the life sciences. View the initial list of CMU Cloud Lab instrumentation (CMU access only). The CMU Cloud Lab will have many of the same instruments as the ECL facility – see the full list of those instruments on the ECL site. The CMU Cloud Lab will expand the available instruments over time as resources allow; if you have ideas for other instruments that should be included, please contact the CMU Cloud Lab team.

Can custom built instrumentation be included in the CMU Cloud Lab?

Yes. Integrating new instrumentation into the Cloud Lab platform requires an investment of time and money, but in theory, effectively any instrument can become part of the Cloud Lab. If you have specific ideas, please contact the CMU Cloud Lab team to discuss.

How do I learn how to use the Cloud Lab?

Start with a virtual information session (see full schedule) and then sign up for an in-depth training (also virtual) that will enable you to execute experiments on the Cloud Lab; these full training through either Emerald Cloud Lab or a CMU course (see schedule).

When/How can I begin using the Cloud Lab and sending samples?

After you have attended the information sessions, completed the Cloud Lab trainings, and received the Cloud Lab certification, please contact the CMU Cloud Lab team to get information about establishing an account to use the Emerald Cloud Lab facility (before fall of 2022) or the CMU Cloud Lab (beginning fall of 2022).

What are the system requirements to be able to run the Cloud Lab software?

After registering to one of the Cloud Lab training sessions, you will be invited to download the ECL Command Center. This will allow you to be able to connect to the Cloud Lab, be trained on the platform, prepare, and perform your experiments.

For Windows users, the minimum and recommend system settings can be found on the Technical Requirements page.

Currently ECL Command Center is only supported on Windows. If your Windows system doesn’t meet the requirements or if you are using a Mac/Linus system, please follow the installation guides provided.

Can the Cloud Lab be included in courses at CMU?

Yes, please contact the CMU Cloud Lab team to discuss how to do that.

Can researchers and students at CMU campuses outside of Pittsburgh use the Cloud Lab?

Yes. Because the Cloud Lab is utilized remotely, once you are trained on how to use the Cloud Lab, you can request experiments from anywhere with an internet connection.

How will Emerald Cloud Lab (ECL) and CMU be working together on the CMU Cloud Lab?

The CMU Cloud Lab will be owned by CMU, and CMU is hiring ECL to set up the CMU Cloud Lab and operate it, as well as licensing ECL’s software to run the facility. Information about the CMU-ECL partnership will be forthcoming.

What are the costs associated with the Cloud Lab?

The Lab usages will be charged by the number of threads used per semester.

We are actively working on the cost assessment. To learn more about the costs and quotes, please contact the CMU Cloud Lab team.

Can the Cloud Lab be included in grant proposals?

Yes, please contact the CMU Cloud Lab team to discuss how to do that.

What is a thread?

A thread represents the smallest sequence of programmed instructions and computational activity that can be run independently and simultaneously by a user. Each thread provides the capacity to have one protocol running in the lab at any given time.

For example: a three-thread account can have up to three protocols being executed simultaneously.

When all the allocated threads are in use, any supplemental protocol/instruction will enter the backlog queue. They will automatically enter execution in order as previously executing protocols are completed and threads become available.