Using Kubernetes to Fight COVID-19

When we look for ways to help our clients after COVID-19 hit our communities, our first instinct is to offer them help getting their programs and services aligned with our cloud-native, digital offerings. We quickly realized that we have two heavy duty Kubernetes clusters setup on bare metal that aren’t doing much, outside of housing our development environments. So, we decided to put those clusters to work and donate a considerable amount of computing power to help scientists find a vaccine for COVID-19 through a program called Folding@home.

The Folding@home project allows individual donors to install a program on their computer that reserves a certain amount of the work their computer can do and dedicates it to helping scientists process large chunks of data that are needed in order to run the models necessary to finding a cure. The program that centralizes this effort takes these gigantic workloads given to them by research groups, breaks it up into smaller chunks, and hands it out to these volunteers’ computers to solve and then send back to the central machine. It is a vast network of distributed computing and one of the most successful projects of its kind, thanks mostly to the very low barrier for entry for donors.

Saint Paul Media is using Kubernetes to help us distribute these workloads across our network of 12+ servers and 5 workstations. Using Kubernetes’ robust resource quotas and self-healing container delivery system, we can dedicate just the right amount of computing power on our servers without impacting the performance of our clients’ web applications. In this way, we are helping scientists get to the heart of the matter by helping them simulate and describe protein models that will get them closer to finding a cure for not only COVID-19 but many other diseases including Alzheimer’s, Breast Cancer, and Ebola–just to name a few.

If you’re interested in the Folding@home project, we encourage you to check out their website, download the software, and let the default installation and configuration do the rest. In less than 5 minutes, you can be helping scientists save lives. If you’re looking for Docker images for the Folding@home project, here are a few:

If you want to join our team, we’ve chosen to work with the /r/homelab team (#229500) and if you’d like to monitor our progress in the fight, you can see that here!