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Shaping the Future of Cloud Computing

Cloud research consortium receives $10 million from National Science Foundation

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University (iCAIR) is part of a national research consortium called Chameleon that this week received $10 million from the National Science Foundation to investigate cloud computing and help develop the next generation of clouds.

Cloud services have become ubiquitous to major 21st-century economic activities, changing the way we work, communicate and learn. However, cloud services and technologies can be significantly more powerful than they are now. A persistent barrier to further advancement has been the lack of a large-scale experimental cloud research platform.

The new Chameleon testbed will enable computer scientists from across the country to develop and experiment with novel cloud architectures and pursue new, architecturally enabled applications of cloud computing.

“This facility will be designed not only to advance the capabilities of clouds but also to revolutionize network services, especially as both are becoming more closely integrated resources,” said Joe Mambretti, director of iCAIR, a focal point for leading-edge Internet research and innovation and the early deployment of communications and networking technologies. He is one of the principal investigators for Chameleon.

The Computation Institute at the University of Chicago is leading the consortium, which includes academic partners Northwestern, the University of Texas at Austin, The Ohio State University and the University of Texas at San Antonio. The Chameleon testbed will be deployed at UChicago and UT Austin.

“Like its namesake, the Chameleon testbed will be able to adapt itself to a wide range of experimental needs, from support for bare metal reconfiguration to popular cloud resources,” said Kate Keahey, a scientist at UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory and principal investigator for Chameleon.

Consisting of 18,000 processor cores in 650 multi-core cloud nodes with five petabytes of storage, the testbed will allow researchers to explore transformative concepts in deeply programmable cloud services, design and core technologies. A special feature of Chameleon is an exceptionally close integration of clouds and networks, which substantially enhances the capabilities of both.

Northwestern researchers will have direct access to this new facility through the University’s connections to national 100 Gbps (gigabits per second) R&E (research and education) networks through the Metropolitan Research and Education Network at the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange Facility on the Chicago campus.

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