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HPIntelYahoo! fluffs cloud for every boffin and his brother

Three countries, six data centers, and one stuffed elephant

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HP, Intel, and Yahoo! have teamed up to build an enormous cloud for grounded boffins across the globe.

They call it the HP, Intel and Yahoo! Cloud Computing Test Bed - CCT, for short - and when completed sometime later this year, it will span six data centers in three separate countries.

"This test bed will provide a globally-distributed, internet-scale testing environment to encourage research on the software, data center management, and hardware associated with cloud computing," Prith Banerjee, senior vice president of Research at HP and director of HP Labs, said during a conference call with reporters.

"The main goal of this initiative is to promote open collaboration between industry, academia, and government by removing the financial and logistical barriers to research in data-intensive, internet-scale computing."

In building their mega-cloud, Banerjee and his corporate cohorts have already joined forces with both academia and government. The HP, Intel and Yahoo! Cloud Computing Test Bed owes half its infrastructure to the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.

Each of the six operations will offer its own data center, and according to Russ Daniels, HP CTO of cloud computing services, each data center will stock somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 processor cores. "We're all providing both the resources and the support for these data centers," Daniels told The Reg.

Bits and pieces of this new cloud are already up and running. HP, for instance, will beef up a data center now used for internal research, and Yahoo!'s has long shared its 4,000-core offering with researchers at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University.

But by the end of the year, Daniels says, all six data centers will work in tandem, serving up one massive cloud to any boffin in need of a lift "The idea is that researchers will be able to propose projects to us that they want to be able to run in the context of this test bed," he told us. "We really want to focus on researchers being able to test things at scale - so we'll look for projects that are looking to do relatively short tests on large amounts of resources."

As you might expect, Yahoo! is hoping to promote development of Hadoop, the stuffed elephant/open source cloud platform that now drives a portion of its search engine. But in theory, the CCT will be open to any cloud-happy project. That includes hardware as well as software research.

"Researchers will have full top-to-bottom control of the cloud. You aren't limited to a particular programming model, libraries, or run-time environment," Daniels said. "You can control things all the way down to the physical infrastructure - and all the way up to the highest level of software." In other words, HP, Intel, Yahoo!, and crew will provide a set of APIs that expose the nitty-gritty of their server, storage, and network configurations.

This, HPIntelYahoo! says, is what separates their boffin-friendly project from a similar cloud floated by Google and IBM. "It's important to announce that what we're doing here is both complementary but also different in flavor than the IBM-Google announcement earlier this year," said Intel's Andrew Chen, during this morning's conference call. "We're supporting research in a variety of levels of the stack - not only at the application layer...There's a greater breadth of the technical space that can be explored in this test bed."

Yes, this is about promoting academic and government research. But it's also about one-upping the corporate competition. ®

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