The BAND: a virtual desktop for bioimage analysis in the cloud

Bioimage analysis often involves extensive human interventions combined with the use of multiple software tools. Popular bioimage analysis software typically include a graphical user interface requiring a desktop environment and are thus generally deployed on dedicated workstations inside each lab. To enable similar human-in-the-loop image analysis workflows in the cloud, EMBL and Euro-BioImaging have been working within EOSC-Life WP2 to create the Bioimage ANalysis Desktop (BAND), a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform that generates a desktop environment geared towards interactive image analysis work within the user’s web browser.

With the BAND, users specify in the web application the resources they need for their desktops, such as amount of RAM, number of CPUs and whether to use a GPU.
In contrast to virtual desktops that package all applications and the desktop into a single container, in the BAND, each software is built as a separate Singularity container and made available via the desktop applications menu. Remote data access is enabled through XNAT, ownCloud and S3-compatible object storage.
The BAND builds on components originally developed for the Australian MASSIVE facility. It runs on an OpenStack cloud infrastructure and its backend consists in a Slurm cluster with access to GPU nodes and a NFS server that supplies persistent data storage for users’ home directories and containers.