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Cloud Computing Test Bed: Live Notes From The Conference Call

Hewlett Packard, Intel and Yahoo announced the Cloud Computing Test Bed this morning. Executives from the three companies are holding a 9 am PST conference call to discuss the new venture. Participating are Prith Banerjee, Senior Vice President, Research, HP and Director, HP Labs; Prabhakar Raghavan, Head of Yahoo! Research; and Andrew Chien, Vice President, Corporate Technology Group, Intel and Director, Intel Research.

The product is a distributed computing platform for third party research and application building. My live call notes are below.

Notes, in chronological order:

…waiting for call to begin

Prith Banerjee from HP began the call and introduced Andrew Chien and Prabhakar Raghavan. Summarizing the key news: HP, Intel and Yahoo are partnering with governments and academic institutions to create an open source cloud computing test bed with six distributed centers. Global, distributed, Internet scale platform. The main goal is to remove financial and logistical barriers for people to develop cloud computing application. Partners include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany.

HP believes we are entering an era of “everything as a service.” Businesses and users will use the services, which will anticipate your needs based on location, etc. This shift towards everything as a service will require a new approach. HP will conduct research in two areas: intelligent infrastructure and cloud services. They say they’ll experiment with radically new data center structures.

Andrew Chien from Intel: cloud computing is a big challenge. important technology issues around hardware stack to drive performance, energy usage, etc. This isn’t a “test tube” study, it’s a large scale distributed global platform. “Intel has a long history of open collaboration” he says.

Prabhakar Raghavan from Yahoo: Says Yahoo is pleased to be a cofounder of the project. Want to take Internet research “to the next level.” Says the next generation of the web demands collaborative research. Discussing M45 data center they launched with Carnegie Mellon and other projects where they experimented with cloud computing. Says this announcement is in the spirit of the earlier partnerships. Building and contributing to an “intellectual commons.”

Questions:

- how are each company contributing?

Each company is providing people and resources, and each is creating one of the six test beds. Research can be conducted across the stack. Yahoo has contributed open source software, from the OS to Hadoop. Chien reiterates support for open source software. Says some of the pieces of the data centers are up and running now.

- Size of investment by each company?

not disclosing financial terms. each facility will have 1,000- 4,000 processor cores.

- web needs a new architecture…please expand?

They want people to take the cloud for granted, so people can create applications at any scale.

- have they measured how much collective computing power? Why not part of IBM/Google research announced last year?

we’re complimentary to IBM/Google, and also different. they are going to allow people to run low levels of customized software. IBM/Google is focused on application level right now. In terms of scale, they say not to focus on total computational capability, but to focus on scalability.

- idea of timeline? what will finished products look like?

some of this is underway and being used. M45 datacenter has been in operation since 2007, this takes it to a broader level. they are looking to see publication of research by all parties, contribution to an intellectual commons.

- have they received government R&D funds?

says they are partnering with the national science foundation and various academic organization, never really answered the question.

- can others join this group? IP ownership?

Chien says they are taking a leadership step. open to more people contributing. On IP ownership, they are making clear statements about what is open source, commitment to openness.

Note: I was not allowed to ask a question for some reason. Things I would have asked:

1. How do third parties open their own facilities/data centers? What if Stanford wants to open a facility?

2. Pricing: How will resources be allocated to people building on the platform?

3. Where to people go for information on APIs and other tools needed to access the platform?

4. Yahoo kept referring to M45 as a version of this already deployed. Is that their contribution or are they building out a new facility.

Overall this is super squishy, and appears to be more of a hype release than anything. More details are needed. A lot more.

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