Cloud Evolution or Revolution

I recently participated in an intriguing podcast discussion with a flagship Platform customer, Tony Cass at CERN, IDC analyst Stephen Conway, and renowned media pundit and blogger Dana Gardner, entitled CERN’s Evolution to Cloud Computing Portending a Revolution in Extreme IT Productivity.

As the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN has a hefty job - solving extreme IT problems while conducting intense scientific research that explores the origins of the universe. As one of the key contributors to the creation of the World Wide Web, it’s no surprise, the organization is currently at the cloud computing frontier, having evolved high-performance computing (HPC) from clusters, to grid, and now to cloud. Dana said it best in our conversation: “In many ways CERN is quite possibly the New York of cloud computing. If cloud can make it there, it can probably make it anywhere.” Mostly because CERN deals with unbelievably large datasets, massive throughput requirements, a global workforce, finite budgets, and an emphasis on standards and openness. We’ve been working with CERN since 1997, when the organization deployed their Platform LSF grid infrastructure. Today, they’re piloting the world’s largest cloud computing environment for scientific collaboration using Platform’s private cloud management and HPC cloud-enabling software solutions, Platform ISF and Platform ISF Adaptive Cluster.

The conversation was fascinating, and I want to highlight one important part of the podcast discussion here: the evolutionary technology trend from clusters to grids to clouds and the revolutionary effect the technology is having on IT productivity and system management.

The transformation of historically static clusters and grids to highly dynamic cloud resources is what is forcing CIOs and their IT departments to rethink their IT architectures and, most importantly, the management layer. Cloud technology alone is nothing revolutionary, it’s the associated remodeling of architecture that rings a revolutionary bell.

At Platform we see the interaction between distributed, shared computing infrastructures and new technologies such as virtualization, requiring management. Just as clusters and grids required workload scheduling and management, so do the expansive farms of both virtual and physical servers in the cloud require management to efficiently share resources and make those resources dynamic. It’s with the help of a technology-agnostic management layer that all the heterogeneous environments are united across a wide-range of hardware, operating systems and virtual machines to create a highly-scalable, on-demand cloud infrastructure with self-service and provisioning. And it’s this self-servicing in the remodeled IT architecture that will drive the IT productivity revolution – making IT a truly competitive service.

I encourage you to listen to the whole podcast on CERN’s Evolution to Cloud Computing Portending a Revolution in Extreme IT Productivity. It provides great insight into how CERN is managing its own architectural and productivity revolution along with great industry insight from IDC and additional end user case studies.

Thank you Tony and Steve for participating and sharing your valuable insight and experiences! I look forward to the comments and conversations that will result from our conversation.


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