Cloud computing’ is fast becoming this year’s ‘green data centre,’ if the recent excitement about technologies that allow people to perform increasingly complicated computing tasks over the internet is any guide.
Compared with some other recent announcements, however, the cloud computing project announced on Tuesday by Yahoo, Intel and Hewlett-Packard appears to pack a particular punch.In a joint press release, the companies said they would create a “test bed” of six data centres designed to promote open-source collaboration around intensive cloud computing. The array will allow companies, academics and other instiutions to conduct cloud computing experiments on a global scale.
In a further sign that the initiative is more than just PR pap, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, one of the top US computer science schools, is among the institutions that will host the project, along with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority. HP Labs and Intel Research will also contribute, with the assistance of software tools from Yahoo.
Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo Research, summed up the effort thusly: “With this test bed, 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.”
As GigaOm points out, the effort can also be seen as an attempt by HP, Yahoo and Intel to create a sandbox for researchers to rival a similar offering from Google, which laid down its marker in cloud computing in partnership with IBM in October. Microsoft has also recently declared its intention to become a superpower in cloud computing.A world in which companies and people can ‘plug in’ to computing resources just like they do electricity is still a long way off. But Tuesday’s initiative looks like it could be useful to researchers looking for ways to move beyond the relatively simple tasks that can be performed in the cloud today - like sales force management and other types of productivity applications - to bigger, more resource-intensive processes.