To push the boundaries of knowledge, scientists at the Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology need access to the latest computational tools and high-performance computing (HPC) resources to analyze huge volumes of data. With SUSE OpenStack Cloud, the institute can provide scientists with computing resources in a private cloud within minutes. Today, scientists can deploy cutting-edge applications and tools to run analyses as and when needed to gain new insights.


The Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology (GMI) was founded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences to promote research excellence. It is one of only a few institutes worldwide that focuses on basic plant research. Part of the Vienna Biocenter and located within the purpose-designed Life Sciences Center Vienna building, the GMI provides a modern, international working environment with some 130 staff from 37 countries.

The Challenge

Dedicated to advancing our understanding of plants, researchers at the GMI investigate everything from developmental biology to population genetics. To attract the brightest talent in the field, the GMI aims to harness the latest technologies to assist scientists in their research.
Dr. Borries Luberacki, Head of HPC Operations at the GMI, begins: “New approaches like next-generation sequencing enable scientists to dig into plant DNA quickly and more cheaply than traditional methods—resulting in a rapid growth of data.”
In addition, advances in medical and biological imaging technology mean that researchers at the GMI need to process more data than ever before.
Dr. Borries Luberacki comments: “Today, many researchers want quick access to HPC resources to analyze large, complex data sets. But with more scientists eager to analyze more data with new, modern computational tools, it was becoming increasingly difficult for our small team to prioritize and manage it all.”

“With SUSE OpenStack Cloud, we can provide scientists with their own virtual machines in our private cloud in as little as 10 minutes, enabling them to deploy the scientific workflows themselves, as and when they want.”

SUSE Solution

To give scientists a faster and more flexible way to access the computing resources they need, the GMI decided to deploy SUSE OpenStack Cloud, an enterprise-ready private cloud platform. The underlying OpenStack open source software controls pools of compute, storage and networking resources, all managed through a single dashboard.
Dr. Borries Luberacki notes: “Since our HPC cluster runs SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as the operating system, SUSE OpenStack Cloud was the natural choice to expand our computing capabilities. We wanted an enterprise solution from a vendor we could trust and, having partnered with SUSE for many years, we knew that we could rely on them for support.”
Working with the SUSE team, the GMI implemented SUSE OpenStack Cloud alongside its HPC cluster. Dr. Borries Luberacki says, “The SUSE team was very helpful throughout the implementation, particularly when we ran into hardware complexities. Whenever we have any questions, we can get help from SUSE right away.”
With SUSE OpenStack Cloud, the GMI established a software-defined data center and can quickly deploy virtual machines (VMs) in a private cloud close to the institute’s HPC cluster. The GMI uses the technology to provide fast, flexible Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings directly to scientists.

The Results

The simple installation process of SUSE OpenStack Cloud has helped GMI to iterate rapidly and adjust the configuration to facilitate integration with its existing HPC cluster.
Dr. Borries Luberacki remarks: “When scientists wanted to try out a new analytics application in the past, it would take us weeks, sometimes months, to set up the software stack on the HPC cluster. Because it took so long, we’d often find that by the time we’d finished setting up the solution, it was no longer needed.
“With SUSE OpenStack Cloud, we can provide scientists with their own VMs in our private cloud in as little as 10 minutes, enabling them to deploy the scientific workflows themselves, as and when they want. This self-service model means that scientists have greater control, flexibility and agility over how and when they use HPC to support their research.”
Thanks to the platform’s easy-to-navigate graphical interface, scientists can quickly and easily launch VMs to deploy their workloads without involving the HPC team
Dr. Borries Luberacki comments: “Now, when scientists want computing resources to analyze next-generation sequencing and biological imaging data sets with the latest computational tools, they can get started themselves without delay. Not only does this support scientific experimentation and innovation, it also greatly reduces the HPC team’s workload. With scientists able to deploy scientific workflows themselves, we only have to provide the basic infrastructure. They can test and evaluate tools independently, and only turn to us when they need additional support.”
He concludes: “We’re already planning to implement SUSE OpenStack Cloud 7 to take advantage of the latest Container-as-a-Service capabilities. Containers make sharing complete applications including all necessary dependencies much easier. Enabling our scientists to take full advantage of new computational tools will further support cutting-edge research.”