Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Yahoo on Tuesday said they have joined government and academia in launching a global, multi-data center test bed for experimentation and research in cloud computing, which many experts believe will be the dominant IT delivery model of the future.
The initiative aims at building a computing network comprised of six data centers spanning three continents. The idea is to have a large-scale platform for testing all technology -- hardware and software -- related to delivering application services over the Internet.
"This is a global collaboration that spans the industry, spans academia and government," Prith Banerjee, senior VP for research at HP, told reporters during a teleconference held by the three founding companies.
The other founders of the effort include the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. The partnership with the University of Illinois also includes the National Science Foundation.
Each of the founding members will host a cloud-computing infrastructure largely based on HP computers and Intel processors. The infrastructure will include from 1,000 to 4,000 processor cores capable of supporting data-intensive research. The six facilities are up and running today in "bits and pieces" and are expected to be fully operational this year and accessible to researchers worldwide through a selection process.
How much access will be granted to researchers in other institutions and corporations isn't clear. Andrew Chien, VP of the Corporate Technology Group at Intel and director of company research, said the group was open to having other organizations join, but "obviously, there will have to be discussions."
"In general, the commitment is to exploit openness in the technology," Chien said.
That "openness" for now will revolve around the use of open source, distributed computing technology developed by the Apache "Hadoop" project, which is under the Apache Software Foundation. Other open-source technology that will be used by the group is called "Pig," a parallel programming language developed by Yahoo.
The implication is that if open-source technology is used in the cloud-computing project, than participants will have to give back at least some of what they develop to the open-source community. In addition, researchers from the academic institutions are expected to publish the results of their work in scientific publications.
For Yahoo, the latest initiative will be an extension of its work on delivering Internet services with Carnegie Mellon University. In that effort, Yahoo provided its M45 supercomputing cluster, which has about 4,000 processors, 3 terabytes of memory, 1.5 petabytes of disks, and a peak performance of more than 27 teraflops, or 27 trillion calculations per second.