MultiView IT Finds a Unique Way to Contribute When Help is Needed
Lee Iacocca once said, “In times of great stress and adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and energy into something positive.” As we continue to navigate through uncertain times, so many people are looking for ways to help. For most of us, that means working from home, practicing social distancing, donating to charity, or giving blood. But if you’re in the technology sector, there’s a way you can contribute to cutting-edge research. And that’s exactly what the IT team at MultiView did by donating a network of spare computing power to an effort researching COVID-19.
The team is taking part in the Folding@home project, a distributed computing research program that uses the idle resources of thousands of computers to simulate the molecular dynamics of protein folding. In essence, it brings together “citizen scientists” to help better understand biology. Based in the Pande Lab at Stanford University, the project investigates the implications of what happens when this folding goes wrong in diseases, including COVID-19.
“I’ve been following the Folding@home project since I was a teenager,” said Brandon Fotoohi, MultiView’s manager of network operations. “Being the tech geek that I am, I’ve always had a ton of computers lying around my ‘home lab’ and have found this to be a great use of spare resources.”
Fotoohi recognized that gaming computers are great for this type of work because of their powerful graphics processing units (GPUs). GPUs are capable of quickly performing multiple mathematical operations – the same operations needed to simulate the environment inside human cells.
“I decided to start a MultiView team and invited some of the other gamers around the office to join the team and contribute to the project,” said Fotoohi.
But it didn’t stop there. With employees working from home on laptops during the COVID-19 crisis, many desktop computers within MultiView’s offices became available. Identifying these resources, Sean McPartlin, senior manager of infrastructure support, further deployed the Folding@home software across the network. The end result? MultiView’s network has completed 378 folding units at the writing of this article, ranking the team in the top 5% of the 242,727 contributors to Folding@home.
“I’m extremely proud of this team and how they’ve found a unique way to give back during this time of need,” said Brandon Webb, MultiView’s chief operating officer. “It often sounds cliché, but we’re all in this together. Many of us sit idle and wait for the experts to tell us next steps. But to have our team be a part of the roadmap to help fight against COVID-19 is commendable.”