Musings of a Computer Scientist

May 2, 2014

Pioneering a “Cloud Mall” for Innovation and Disruption

Filed under: Uncategorized — Azer Bestavros @ 9:42 am

Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, Azer Bestavros, Boston University Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Open Cloud, MOC, Hariri Institute Cloud Computing Initiative, Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center

It is truly rewarding to see an idea — that many have belittled as impractical, unrealistic, and only of academic interest — finally take on a life of its own, culminating almost seven years of work on the CloudCommons project!

With Massachusetts pledging $3 million in state support, it was wonderful for me to represent the entire BU and MGHPCC team in the proverbial handshake with the Governor of Massachusetts who announced the launch of the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC) — a path-breaking computing cloud that could spur economic growth and technology innovation.

Quoting the story as reported by Bostonia:

The plan calls for hosting the MOC at the MGHPCC data center, where it would tap the computational power of BU and its MOC partners, who have jointly contributed $16 million to MGHPCC, leveraging the $3 million matching grant from the state. Besides the participating universities, MOC partners are tech firms Red Hat, Cisco, EMC, Juniper Networks, SGI, Mellanox, Plexxi, Riverbed, Enterprise DB, Cambridge Computer Services, and DataDirect Networks.

The MOC concept of a cloud marketplace grew out of BU research in 2009. In a recent paper, Bestavros and Krieger argue that closed clouds usually have a single provider, who “alone has access to the operational data.” For this and other reasons, they write, “in the long run, if only a handful of major providers continue to dominate the public cloud marketplace, then any innovation can only be realized through one of them.”

With a cloud designed like the MOC, their paper says, “many stakeholders, rather than just a single provider, participate in implementing and operating the cloud. This creates a multisided marketplace in which participants freely cooperate and compete with each other, and customers can choose among numerous competing services and solutions.”

Another advantage: an open cloud would be more secure than a closed one, Bestavros and Krieger say. It is “the best way to make sure that software is clean,” according to Bestavros, especially as American tech companies complain that federal computer snooping might scare off billions of dollars’ worth of cloud computing customers. With a public, open cloud like the MOC, “the National Security Agency cannot put backdoors in an open-source code, because you can see what the software is doing,” he says.

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