NSF Announces $10M Investment in CloudLab and Chameleon to Fuel Cloud Innovation

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced Thursday that it will fund two cloud computing labs, CloudLab and Chameleon. The academic community will be able to experiment with “novel cloud architectures and pursue new, architecturally-enabled applications of cloud computing.”

The funding of these projects supports the NSF’s goal of broadly advancing the field of cloud technology. The industry as a whole is looking strongly towards innovation and providing a lot of funding for companies, startups and academia to promote new cloud-based products and ideas.

All US academic researcher and educators will have access to CloudLab for free. It intends to work with early adopters prior to public availability. Users may sign up for news at the site for a chance to participate.

“While most of the original concepts for cloud computing came from the academic research community, as clouds grew in popularity, industry drove much of the design of their architecture,” the NSF said in a statement. “Today’s awards complement industry’s efforts and will enable academic researchers to experiment and advance cloud computing architectures that can support a new generation of innovative applications, including real-time and safety-critical applications like those used in medical devices, power grids, and transportation systems.”

Suzi Iacono, acting NSF head said the program will provide “unique and compelling research opportunities” to the academic community that may not have been available without this funding.

The first of the two NSF projects is called Chameleon and will be launched soon, according to its site. Chameleon Cloud will initially deploy with OpenStack infrastructure. The cloud will be deployed this fall at the University of Chicago and the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Chameleon support for heterogeneous computer architectures is unique to the project, it says.

Plans for the lab consist of 650 multi-core cloud nodes with a 100 Gbps connection between the sites and 5PB of disk space. Chameleon will provide a large-scale platform on which researchers can explore new concepts in cloud core technologies.

“Like its namesake, the Chameleon testbed will be able to adapt itself to a wide range of experimental needs, from bare metal reconfiguration to support for ready made clouds,” Kate Keahey, a scientist at the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and principal investigator for Chameleon said.

The testbed will support experiments with, “heterogeneous units allowing experimentation with high-memory, large-disk, low-power, GPU, and co-processor units.” The cloud will offer full user configuration options of the software stack.

“A special feature of Chameleon is that it provides for an exceptionally close integration of clouds and networks, which substantially enhances the capabilities of both,” according to its site. “In addition, to facilitate experiments, Chameleon will support a set of services designed to meet researchers needs, including support for experimental management, reproducibility, and repositories of trace and workload data of production cloud workloads.”

Chameleon plans to form partnerships with other commercial and academic clouds such as Open Science Data Cloud (OSDC), Rackspace, CERN, GENI and INRIA’s Grid’5000 and CloudLab.

The second NSF project is called CloudLab. The site describes it as “…flexible, scientific infrastructure for research on the future of cloud computing. Researchers come to CloudLab to build their own clouds, experimenting with new architectures that will form the basis for the next generation of the world’s computing platforms.”

CloudLab’s software stack is based on Emulab, a network testbed researchers use to develop and test new software.

“Emulab’s primary strength lies in provisioning an ensemble of resources at the physical level, giving experimenters ‘raw’ access to compute, network, and storage resources,” according to the CloudLab site. “…ensemble includes a full description of the network, enabling Emulab to tightly control network topologies and to do network-aware resource placement. It places the infrastructure layer below the cloud software architecture, enabling experimenters to run cloud software stacks such as OpenStack, Eucalyptus, and CloudStack as experiments within CloudLab.”

Researchers at the University Wisconsin-Madison are excited to participate in the CloudLab Project. Thursday it announced 2.3 million in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Participate in the project.

According to an article by UW-Madison, CloudLab will serve as a testing ground for the UW-Madison research institute called WISDOM. Computer scientists Aditya Akella, Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau and Larry Landweber, among others, will participate.

WISDOM focuses on software to drive next-generation data centers. “There is great promise in medicine, genetics, physics, transportation and more,” Landweber said.

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