Kubernetes and Google Cloud

Project goal

The aim of this project is to demonstrate the scalability and performance of Kubernetes and the Google Cloud, validating this setup for future computing models. As an example, we are using the famous Higgs analysis that led to the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics, thus also showing that real analysis can be done using CERN Open Data.

R&D topic
Data-centre technologies and infrastructures
Project coordinator(s)
Ricardo Manuel Brito da Rocha
Collaborator liaison(s)
Karan Bhatia, Andrea Nardone, Mark Mims, Kevin Kissell


Project background

As we look to improve the computing models we use in high-energy physics (HEP), this project serves to demonstrate the potential of open and well established APIs, such as Kubernetes. They open up a wide range of new possibilities in terms of how we deploy our workloads.

Based on a challenging and famous use case, we’re working to demonstrate that these new tools —together with the virtually unlimited capacity offered by public cloud providers — make it possible to rethink how analysis workloads can be scheduled and distributed. This could lead to further improvements in the efficiency of our systems at CERN.

The project also provides an excellent opportunity to show how, given enough resources, anyone can replicate important physics analysis work using the open data published by CERN and the LHC experiments.

Recent progress

The initial goal of the project has been fulfilled: we have demonstrated that Kubernetes and the Google Cloud is a viable and extremely performant setup for running HEP analysis work. The code required, as well as the setup, is fully documented and publicly available (see publications).

The outcome of the project was presented at a number of high-profile conferences, including a keynote presentation at KubeCon Europe 2019, an event attended by over 8000 people. A live demo of the whole setup, using data from the CERN Open Data Portal, was shown on stage.

The setup — as well as the dataset used — has been prepared for publication as a Google Cloud official tutorial. This will enable anyone to trigger a similar execution using their own public cloud resources. This tutorial will be published in early 2020, once the text has been finalised.

Next steps

This project was initially self-contained, with a clear target for the presentation at KubeCon Europe 2019. However, the project has now grown beyond this initial, limited scope. Future steps should include:

  • Further investigating how using public cloud can improve physics analysis.
  • Working to provide on-demand, bursting to public cloud capabilities for our on-premise resources.
  • Seeking to understand how we can best define policies and accounting procedures for using public cloud resources in this manner.




    R. Rocha, L. Heinrich, higgs-demo. Project published on GitHub. 2019. cern.ch/go/T8QQ


    R. Rocha, L. Heinrich, Reperforming a Nobel Prize Discovery on Kubernetes (21 May). Presented at Kubecon Europe 2019, Barcelona, 2019. cern.ch/go/PlC8
    R. Rocha, L. Heinrich, Higgs Analysis on Kubernetes using GCP (19 September). Presented at Google Cloud Summit, Munich, 2019. cern.ch/go/Dj8f
    R. Rocha, L. Heinrich, Reperforming a Nobel Prize Discovery on Kubernetes (7 November). Presented at the 4th International Conference on Computing in High-Energy and Nuclear Physics (CHEP), Adelaide, 2019. cern.ch/go/6Htg
    R. Rocha, L. Heinrich, Deep Dive into the Kubecon Higgs Analysis Demo (5 July). Presented at CERN IT Technical Forum, Geneva, 2019. cern.ch/go/6zls