Feeds

Japan weather bods rain on using cloud for tsunami warning data-crunching

Don't call us, we'll warn you

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The agency which predicts tsunamis and earthquakes in Japan has poured cold water on the idea of using the cloud to underpin its supercomputing operations.

While cloud vendors have been touting supercomputing on tap for a few years now, Tatsuya Kimura, head of the office of international affairs at the Japan Meteorological Agency, questioned their suitability for the crucial predictions his agency has to make.

In the event of a major earthquake, the agency has to make a call in minutes as to whether to issue a tsunami alert. As well as providing Japan's weather services including tracking typhoons, the agency also issues earthquake warnings for the “Tokai” area, where the tectonic plates are particularly well understood.

“It’s a time-critical service,” he told journalists at agency's Tokyo HQ today. “We can’t say the warning was late because of the cloud service... I think it’s a little unlikely to move to the cloud.”

JMA’s current supercomputer is a 847 Teraflop beast supplied by Hitachi and housed in Tokyo - itself somewhat quake-prone. Fujitsu provides comms and other ICT services. Kimura said in the event of the JMA's supercomputer copping it, it doesn’t have a redundant backup, and would initially have to rely on weather data from other agencies such as the UK’s Met Office for its weather predictions.

The agency’s tsunami warnings are decided by humans, who rely on a previously compiled database of models covering different magnitudes and depths of quake across key locations. Japan can experience up to 1,000 quakes a day.

The system for tsunami warnings was overhauled in the wake of the devastating 2011 quake, which resulted in a tsunami that killed over 10,000.

Kimura said that quake was off the scale - the agency’s seismometers were “saturated” and could initially not give a reading for its magnitude, leading to an underestimation of the danger of the tsunami.

Kimura said the agency’s new protocol meant if a tsunami of more than 1m in magnitude is expected, it issues an immediate evacuation notice for areas likely to be hit.

While questioning cloud providers' suitability for underpinning its warning system, Kimura did say the agency uses cloud services for disseminating information, and will do so with imaging data from its upcoming new weather satellite, due to launch in October.

However, cloud vendors are unlikely to be able to change the agency’s mind any time soon. It upgrades supercomputer every five years, and has just put the advisory team together for the next refresh in four years time. Outsourcing the service is not on the agenda.®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The cloud that goes puff: Seagate Central home NAS woes
4TB of home storage is great, until you wake up to a dead device
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Intel offers ingenious piece of 10TB 3D NAND chippery
The race for next generation flash capacity now on
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
SAVE ME, NASA system builder, from my DEAD WORKSTATION
Anal-retentive hardware nerd in paws-on workstation crisis
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.