Cloud Computing

Boston University Receives $3 Million from Massachusetts for Open Public Cloud Marketplace

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Boston University has received $3 million dollars in funding from the state of Massachusetts to develop the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC), a new model for public clouds. The state is matching a grant from Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

 The MOC model is based on the concept of the Open Cloud Exchange (OCX). It’s a public cloud marketplace where there are several service providers that operate the cloud. This takes away control from a single provider and may have a few advantages over to a closed cloud or proprietary cloud marketplace.

This model promotes competition among service providers, giving customers better solutions. It could also provide better security since the NSA or other entities can’t put backdoors in open-source code, Azer Bestavros, BU Computer Science professor and Founding Director of the Hariri Institute told BU Today.

According to the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering, the department behind the initiative, the MOC is open and customizable, in contrast to current closed single provider cloud options.

“In the MOC, multiple entities engage on a level playing field to provide computing resources and services as well as to add value to offerings by other entities in support of a wide range of data-driven applications. With significant payoff to the public and private sectors, the MOC will be a catalyst for the economic development of business clusters that engage both industrial and academic institutions.”

In addition to the grant, several partners to the project such as Red Hat, Cisco, EMC, Juniper Networks have provided an additional $16 million in funding.

The Cloud Computing Initiative (CCI) will lead MOC development. CCI founding director Orran Krieger said this project would be the first under a public open cloud model.

The project is a collaboration among BU, Harvard, UMass Amherst, MIT, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and is funded from multiple sources including multiple companies in the technology industry.

Rather than renting cloud space from a single closed cloud provider such as Amazon or Google, the MOC would be a marketplace similar to a mall where customers could choose from among multiple vendors of hardware, software and services. There are several existing “cloud marketplace” type concepts, but they typically focus on a single provider and their partners.

Universities are contributing in big ways to cloud technologies. The WHIR recently reported on technology by Stanford University that improves cloud efficiency and better utilizes existing resources promoting cleantech.

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