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Spin is a container-based platform* at NERSC designed for you to deploy your own science gateways, workflow managers, databases, API endpoints, and other network services to support your scientific projects. Services in Spin are built with Docker containers and can easily access NERSC systems and storage.

Who Uses Spin?

The flexibility of Docker makes Spin useful for many projects. A few examples:

  • ESS-DIVE is a data repository that facilitates sharing and discovery of earth sciences data sets using the Metacat research data catalog system atop NERSC storage.
  • The LZ Dark Matter Experiment has built custom workflow tools and science gateways that help collaborators organize the experiment and analyze and visualize notable detector events.
  • ScienceSearch provides deep search into research data sets by generating robust metadata from ML techniques that incorporate user tagging and training.
  • Phytozome, a project of the Join Genome Institute, offers a comprehensive library of plant genomics data.
  • The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) project operates databases and tools for data movement that support continuous workflows.
  • COVIDScholar uses ML to help COVID-19 researchers discover materials more quickly and easily using natural language queries.

NERSC also uses Spin as a frontend for some of its most popular services, such as JupyterHub.

If your project needs a persistent service to help with workflow operations, manage or disseminate project data, or otherwise interact with NERSC systems, Spin may be for you!

Spin is Moving to Kubernetes!

In April, we launched an instance of version 2 of Rancher, the orchestration system underlying Spin. Rancher 2 is based on the popular Kubernetes scheduler and features a web-based user interface, a simpler process for making network services available, and numerous other enhancements. At the same time, we launched an improved Docker image registry based on the popular Harbor system.

The legacy instance of Rancher 1, launched in mid-2018, will continue to operate through late 2020.

Access to Rancher 2 and the new image registry will be rolled out through the SpinUp Workshop program, which will offer full interactive workshops for new users and self-guided orientation for existing users.

Get Started and Get Help

Whether you're new to Spin or a seasoned expert, there are several options for support.

  • New users can attend an interactive SpinUp Workshop which covers important concepts, demonstrates tools and techniques, and explains your responsibilities when deploying services at NERSC.
  • Current users who are familiar with Rancher 1 but working on moving services to Rancher 2 can follow Self-Guided SpinUp to come up to speed quickly.
  • All users are welcome to attend biweekly Spin Office Hours and submit tickets with questions.

For more details, schedules, and registration, see the full listing of Spin Training and Tutorials.

Users must have an active NERSC account and attend a workshop for access to Spin.

A basic understanding of Docker technology is recommended.

See Spin in Action

See this video for a presentation about Spin, its capabilities, and examples of services that are currently running there.

Note: this recording is from NERSC New User Training on March 21, 2018 and uses the legacy Spin instance. Materials based on the new instance, based on Kubernetes, are under development.

See this video for a live demonstration of building a service in Spin and performing basic maintenance tasks, such as changing the underlying Docker images and accessing shell prompts and container logs for troubleshooting.


Want to reference Spin in your paper, poster, or presentation slides?

We supply the official Spin graphics for print and web media designed for use on light or dark backgrounds and in both horizontal and vertical layouts.

* In cloud terms, a "Containers-as-a-Service (CaaS)" platform.