Book a discovery or test our environment today!

Get Started

2-min Read

Migrating to Cloud Computing Part 2: Interview with Concordia, Cybera, and PulseMedica

According to IBM’s study in 2019, almost 50% large companies adopted AI while small medium enterprises (SMEs) adopted only 30%. One of the requirements to adopt AI is to have the appropriate infrastructure and ISAIC is here to help you migrate to the cloud.

In celebration of its anniversary, Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (AMII) hosted AI Week from May 24-27, 2022. ISAIC proudly took part in the community events of AI Week, presenting to almost 60 people about Cloud Computing Migration.



ISAIC: Can you tell us more about the service that ISAIC provides for you? 

Concordia: ​​For us, primarily that takes the form of Jupyter installations. Our students are often using Jupyter Notebooks which are sort of interactive Python Notebooks that they can access through their browser. In our case, those are backed by GPU-enabled instances which are very important for machine learning and AI. That’s really allowed our students to build experiments and build models that really reiterate on the projects that they’re working on in a rapid turnaround fashion. We also use a few virtual machines in that traditional sense but for our students, it’s primarily through having that purpose built JupyterHub installation. 

Cybera: We’ve collaborated with ISAIC on the fellowship program but also on different consultations and events such as Hackathons. Typically, we’ve been using the VM on Demand service and in the case of the fellowship program, each of our aspiring or emerging data scientists get assigned a VM on Demand and they can use that VM for their entire project. These projects are connected to businesses, business ideas and business problems and these businesses can decide to continue on using the ISAIC services. 

Our client base will come to us with data science problems but once we’ve wrapped up on our side of things, they’re looking for support on the infrastructure side so we connect with ISAIC to further their development and their use of cloud infrastructure.

Pulse Medica: We have a virtual machine at ISAIC that gets used almost 24/7. When we started, it was just one team member for a single project but now we distribute those resources across multiple people for multiple projects so, it’s a lot of usage. 


ISAIC: Now, can you elaborate on why you chose cloud infrastructure and some of its advantages?

Concordia: The devil’s in the details, as they say. There’s a lot involved to make sure we’re right-sizing our equipment, that we’re building a service that’s going to be sufficient for students in all of the different ways they need to operate, and we need to be able to scale it when we have changs in student enrollment. That always means growth and the ability for us to rapidly turn that around by dealing with a group that has a lot of expertise in operating this infrastructure has been really invaluable. 

Cybera: Some of the biggest things around cloud infrastructure is you can leverage it to do things you just can’t do on your own laptop, for example. The power of cloud computing is pretty profound, you can scale up your efforts really easily. With the cost of cloud computing going down, with access to cloud computing increasing, there’s no reason to limit yourself to what you have. You can easily go out there and find cloud service providers like ISAIC, so the barrier to adoption has significantly dropped. ISAIC’s hands-on concierge type service makes it easy and less intimidating to take that first step and really engage. The user interface has made infrastructure as a service less intimidating as well. Through ISAIC’s approach, they’ve really reduced the barrier to usage and adoption. 

Pulse Medica: A key concern is the ability to explore the scale of resources we need without having to invest in hardware ourselves, and that’s what ISAIC allowed us to do. Within a few days, we can spin another GPU and add that to our resources. Also, because we’re growing very quickly, collaboration is really important between team members. It’s a lot easier to do that if you have a centralized system and resources that we can coordinate. 

I want to add another point about security. We don’t have to manage our own systems and security for data which is key, and that’s something that ISAIC is handling and we don’t have to think about. 

ISAIC: If I may ask, how do you see yourself growing in terms of infrastructure?

Concordia: Concordia has been seeing rapid student growth in all areas over the past few years and that’s been really exciting, but also really, really challenging. From an IT perspective, it’s put a lot of stress on a lot of our systems and the ways we interact with students. To be working with a partner that understands provisioning these kinds of systems, means that this critical aspect of the student experience is not something I need to be worried about or dealing with on a reactive basis. Having someone to contact, to deal with, who understands the problem space, has been really, really helpful. 

Cybera: As new projects come to us, we imagine these projects will change and grow with complexity and require more computing infrastructure requirements as well. To meet those needs, we can’t always do that ourselves in our own cloud computing environment, so we reach out to the experts and ISAIC to really help us out. ISAIC’s infrastructure is definitely state of the art so we’re happy to engage with you to effectively run our projects and produce solutions for our clients. 

Pulse Medica: I suspect our company is going to divide more in two, one is on the R&D side. We’re going to be adding more machine learning research and development team members and we’re going to need a lot more resources, not just in the number of GPUs, but also the type of GPUs. I know ISAIC recently added some more high end GPU models that we’re really excited to try out and we’d love to expand into that space and those resources. Also, expand on how we store patient data and the amount of patient data, those resources which we’d like to utilize ISAIC for as well. 

ISAIC: Thank you. Do you have any last words of advice regarding cloud adoption?

Concordia: To some degree, adopting cloud solutions is inevitable. Everyone needs to scale and people’s needs, all across the board, are shifting so rapidly that I don’t think in-house solutions are going to cut it. When it comes to a lot of those dynamic experiences or the needs of fluctuating populations, like the student body, or even your research cohort when it comes to faculty, there’s a lot of variables in play. Having someone you can call on to scale rapidly is really, really invaluable. 

Cybera: As I was saying before, there’s so many options now in terms of getting started that you shouldn’t be intimated to take that first step. I definitely encourage anyone to just jump in headfirst and get started because there really is very little reason for you not to start to explore and experiment. 

Pulse Medica: My main advice would be to learn to use tools like Git and GitHub, but also tools like DVC, Data Version Control, so you can manage your datasets and reproduce projects really quickly for multiple people. That’s really important for cloud; to track what’s going and track progress in their different projects.