HP, Intel and Yahoo build a cloud computing playground

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Palo Alto (CA) – Whether you like it or not, cloud computing is shaping up more and more
to become one of the key IT trends of the next decade. Today, cloud
computing
consists of too many unknown variables and most cloud services
available could be considered transitional services at best. HP, Intel
and Yahoo are now taking a lead role in this trend and are building a
huge cloud computing playground for researchers in the hope that
convincing applications will be developed and open questions will be
answered.

If the IT industry has its way, the way how we use software today could soon be history. Instead of owning a local copy of software and instead of storing data on a local hard drive, the vision is that we will be using (internet-based) services as the foundation of everyday computing. HP already has outlined its ideas as “Everything as a Service,” which defines devices and services to interact seamlessly through the cloud. HP believes that, sometime in the near future, businesses and individuals will use services that anticipate their needs based on location, preferences, calendar and communities.

But a transition to cloud computing will require a change in the way we think about computers today and that will require convincing application models that provide benefits over the local software and applications we are currently using. Cloud services have made substantial progress in the corporate space already, but cloud computing for consumers is in its infancy – despite services such as Google Docs, Adobe’s Photoshop Express as well as emerging concepts such as Cherrypal and Ncomputing, which we believe has all the genes to become the next Google, if cloud computing takes off.

HP, Intel and Yahoo seem to be getting more serious about cloud computing and its future and announced the creation of a scientific playground that will enable researcher to develop and test drive cloud computing concepts at “Internet-scale”. The three companies describe the effort as a “global, multi-data center, open source test bed to promote open collaboration among industry, academia and governments by removing the financial and logistical barriers to research in data-intensive, Internet-scale computing.”

According to the companies, this test bed will “encourage research on the software, data center management and hardware issues associated with cloud computing at a larger scale than ever before.”

The test bed will initially consist of six “centers of excellence” at IDA (Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore) facilities, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Steinbuch Centre for Computing of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, HP Labs, Intel Research and Yahoo. Each location will host a cloud computing infrastructure, largely based on HP hardware and Intel processors, and will have 1000 to 4000 processor cores. Yahoo will contribute its experience in open source projects by running Apache Hadoop, an open source, distributed computing project of the Apache Software Foundation, and other open source, distributed computing software such as Pig, a parallel programming language that was developed by the company.

The playground is scheduled to open later this year. Researchers interested in taking advantage of this infrastructure will have to go through a “selection process.”