Tech Giants Put Heads In Clouds

    July 29, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

Uber-geeks have been talking for a while about cloud computing and how it’s the future, especially the geeks at Google, and later, Microsoft. Today, though, it’s a partnership between Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Yahoo generating the next wave of cloud computing buzz.

If you need a refresher, here’s how Wikipedia defines cloud computing. Simply put, imagine not needing a full machine for anything and storing your data and programs "in the cloud," or online. Google’s distributed, load-balancing server system is part of why Google is efficient and fast. The same concept, applied on a massive scale, was applied to create "the Grid," a network of computers needed to create the capacity required for cutting edge quantum physics.

Anyway, HP, Intel and Yahoo are putting together their own state-of-the-art open source grid system to test cloud computing and various applications on a large (Internet) scale. The Cloud Computing Test Bed is intended to allow such testing on a global level, removing the financial, technological, and logistical barriers facing industry, academia, and governments.

The three tech giants tapped Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (including the National Science Foundation), and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany to help form the research initiative. Facilities from all six organizations comprise the test bed, each location hosting its own cloud-computing infrastructure, most hardware provided by HP and processors provided by Intel. They expect the system to employ between 1,000 and 4,000 processor cores.

That’s about as proprietary as it gets, though. Yahoo is lending its open source expertise by running Apache Hadoop and Pig, Yahoo’s parallel programming language. "With this test bed," said Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo! Research, "not only can researchers test applications at Internet scale, they will also have access to the underlying computing systems to advance understanding of how systems software and hardware function in a cloud environment.”

Prith Banerjee, senior vice president of Research at HP and director of HP Labs, says the test bed will allow them tap the brightest minds among industry, academic institutions, and governments for developing "an entirely new approach to the way we design, deploy and manage cloud infrastructure and services."

"Creating large-scale test beds is important because they lower barriers to innovation and provide the opportunity to experiment and learn at scale," said Andrew A. Chien, vice president and director of Intel Research.

Beyond all the technical jargon, there is a nice competitive spirit between these companies and a similar partnership between Google and IBM. HP, Intel, and Yahoo hope to out-build Google and IBM in terms of a testable cloud system. They boast also that their system is open source from top to bottom.