Atmosphere, the iPlant Collaborative's cloud infrastructure service platform, facilitates and addresses the growing need for highly configurable and cloud-enabled computational resources by the plant sciences research community.

Overview & Tutorials
Atmosphere Overview and Tutorial

Atmosphere is a cloud service that allows users to launch their own isolated virtual working environment and software. Scientists who want to use iPlant-provided software suites can access Atmosphere’s web interface and obtain computing resource in a virtual machine (VM). Scientists who want to publish their own software suites can also create their own work environment and implement their own software for public or community use in Atmosphere. Atmosphere is also a gateway to access the iPlant Collaborative’s core infrastructure resources such as high performance computing (HPC), grid computing environment and big data storage system.


Atmosphere was developed in response to iPlant Collaborative’s users who needed convenient access to highly configurable computational and storage resources and to address the limitations in existing cloud platforms while adding additional features that expand the Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) and Platform As A Service (PaaS) functionality. Atmosphere serves as an integrated, private, self-service cloud computing platform aimed primarily at providing ease of access to three levels of service: 1) IaaS with advanced APIs, 2) PaaS for developing and deploying software to the public, and 3) SaaS (Software As A Service), with preconfigured, frequently used analysis routines, relevant algorithms and data sets as a software service in an on-demand environment designed to accommodate computationally and data-intense bioinformatics tasks.


Atmosphere’s key features include

  • A very easy, intuitive icon launcher in a rich web client for easy and quick access by tool users
  • A powerful and rich web client for ease of management and administration
  • An API Service for integrating with existing infrastructure components
  • A customized self-service portal for end users
  • Virtual machine images preconfigured for plant sciences domain-specific tasks
  • Ability to manage user resources and user resource quota
  • Statistical reporting for total CPU hours, memory usages, total instances and applications launched by users. Also statistical methods for each instances/applications (listing favorite application, etc.)
  • Resource scheduling and cloud monitoring
  • On-demand intelligent resource allocator


Based on the application/tool stack that tool developers provide through Atmosphere’s resource platform, Atmosphere provides these application/tool stacks as a software service to tool users. As described previously, tool users are biologists who seek to analyze their research data set with one or more algorithms or tools. To provide an intuitive research environment to biologists, Atmosphere provides an application catalog with an intuitive user interface to access them. The key point of Atmosphere’s SaaS perspective is how fast and easy Atmosphere can provide a full work environment with minimal to no configuration necessary by tool users. To do this, Atmosphere provides a preconfigured application catalog for tool users. Users select the application icon they want to launch from the choices in their catalog. Atmosphere will send notifications to users about detailed information to access created instances. Some applications use traditional terminal access and some use virtual desktop environments through VNC sessions.

Development Team

Name Role Institution
Edwin Skidmore
Lead; Assistant Director, Cyberinfrastructure
iPlant Collaborative, The University of Arizona
Sangeeta Kuchimanchi Infrastructure Services Integrator iPlant Collaborative, The University of Arizona
J. Matt Peterson Software Engineer iPlant Collaborative, The University of Arizona
Andy Edmonds Systems Administrator iPlant Collaborative, The University of Arizona
Christopher LaRose Student Programmer iPlant Collaborative, The University of Arizona