The Troposphere

Jun 30 2009   3:32PM GMT

Trawling for ideas in Open Cirrus — HP’s stab at a free cloud

CarlBrooks Carl Brooks Profile: CarlBrooks

HP plans to release its own open source cloud computing platform, according to the Director of HP’s Service Automation and Integration Labs, Chris Whitney. The Open Cirrus project, which HP Labs sponsors along with Yahoo! and Intel, was designed to put together “the ultimate stack of software people can use to build a cloud,” he said.

The project is a collaboration between the IT giants to pool computing resources at different sites into a “testbed” cloud and open it to researchers. Whitney said that Open Cirrus has about 300 researchers onboard since announcing partnerships with far-flung computer science labs in Russia, Malaysia and South Korea. He said HP has contributed about 10,000 computing nodes(virtual servers), Yahoo! about 3-4,000, and the other partners are kicking in at least 1,000 nodes each.

“We’re definitely envisioning an open-source software stack under the GPL” he said, similar to the eponymous LAMP software stack. He said they are experimenting with existing free cloud technologies (like EUCALYPTUS) and also gathering data from HP Labs’ own hardware installation, which runs on commodity HP data center servers.

Whitney said his team is also experimenting on a low level with using optical fiber communications on server backplanes and heating and cooling techniques in HP’s installation.

At a higher level, researchers are focusing on different applications for Hadoop, like data mining applications and “wide-area Hadoop” — data processing over distant geographical locations. There is a short list of current projects, but more are expected from the new partner sites.

Several open source cloud projects exist already, like Spanish Abiquo and UC-Berkeley’s EUCALYPTUS (released on Ubuntu 9.10), Canadian Enomaly, the Globus Nimbus project and others. Cloud leaders like Amazon and Rackspace run their clouds on open source technology but do not release their technology publicly. IBM is facilitating an EU-funded project called RESERVOIR, but it’s goals appear to be stretgic rather than practical.

HP’s entry, when and if it arrives, will mark the first open source cloud platform released by a major commercial vendor; certainly something to watch.

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