“The birthplace of the Web” races towards a Private Cloud

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), renowned as the birthplace of the Web, predicts that by 2012, cloud computing will grow nearly threefold to about $42 billion which would represent close to 10% of overall IT spend.

And, it’s an early adopter of a cloud computing aggressively pursuing new private cloud strategies to cope with massive data sets generated from various scientific projects across hundreds, perhaps thousands, of datacenters

It has also recently adopted SaaS from to deliver evolved, people-centric service management across campus operations.

CERN is home to 2,300 staff members, playing host to more than 10,000 visiting scientists from more than 100 nationalities. The increasing number of scientists visiting CERN on annual basis prompted the body to implement a new SaaS solution.

But while the SaaS angle is interesting, the power of a private cloud is really where CERN is concentrating its scientific firepower. It’s pursuing this strategy partly due to the gigantic amounts of data being produced by the Large Hadron Collider which currently has to be stored and processed onsite and via collaborating institutes around the world.

CERN is extending its physical and virtualized servers into a private cloud in order to address the above and a very specific challenge – scheduling the growing number of job requests across its datacenters.

While it’s getting great results, it is not all plain sailing. The 451 insight group reports that Local disk I/O – virtualizing to hard disk – is the key performance bottleneck CERN faces.

“Supporting the kind of data-intensive requirements it has (size, I/O) across an on-demand infrastructure makes the use of public cloud a nonstarter for it now. The data management problem hasn’t been readily solved on its private cloud yet either. Virtualization vendor lock-in hurts.”

CERN already has 50,000-60,000 VMs (Xen and KVM) deployed in the batch environment that connect to LSF – but going forward, it wants to be able to connect to any scheduler including the open source OpenNebula meta-scheduler.

“A key challenge will be the ability to support intensive data requirements in the cloud. Creating additional capacity on-demand in a cloud, rather than using hard-wired resources, will require new mechanisms to get data in and out of the cloud to support this demand.”

“This data management challenge could be an inhibitor to using external clouds. CERN is concerned that third-party clouds are, for the most part, opaque – you don’t know where the resources are or what they are.”

In the final analysis CERN hopes a private cloud environment can enable users to plug in to their shared environment and access the applications they need, without stacks of IT hardware in the basement to house the data or IT personnel on site needed to maintain and support the infrastructure.”

Your aims as a corporate business should be no different. While the scale of CERN’s private cloud initiative may be mind boggling your organization should be thinking along the same lines. A simpler IT infrastructure at a fraction of the cost, if implemented correctly, is a worthy goal. Contact our cloud team to discuss various private cloud platforms on the OnApp PayG system.

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