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Research project to investigate cloud computing technologies

Computer lab

6th July, 2010

Aston University is involved in a £1.2m research project which is set to investigate the possibilities of next generation ‘cloud’ technologies for large-scale, complex IT systems.

Engineers from Aston’s Computer Science Group are collaborating with the University of Bristol and University of St Andrews to evaluate ‘cloud computing’ and associated technologies, and their relevance to SME’s and large organisations in the future.

‘Cloud computing’ allows individual users and companies to gain access to computing infrastructure, platforms and software applications on demand, via a ‘utility’ service similar to accessing the electricity grid.

This new service, accessed via the Internet, allows information to be stored and processed in a ‘cloud’ by remote and very-large-scale date centres, with individuals and organisations then able to access resources to suit their own particular business requirements.

Aston University researchers will be creating maths-based models to explore the dependability, resilience and performance levels of these new large-scale IT ‘clouds’. They will be developing theory and methods to assess reliability and service quality, and simple ‘toolkits’ for business users to easily assess future needs.

Pricing, resources, service speed and social, environmental and technical implications of developing cloud technologies will also be examined across the research teams at the three UK universities.  

Dr Radu Calinescu, Lecturer in Computing at Aston University, said; “One vision is to see ‘cloud computing’ as the next major utility service such as gas and electricity, with perhaps a small number of very large companies providing this service on-line and on-demand  to a mix of individual and business users.”

“‘Cloud computing’ provides new technologies that can be tailored for different customers, but likewise this also creates lots of challenges including security, power usage and environmental issues. Through the creation of mathematical models we will be assessing many areas including cost versus reliability and performance to satisfy user demands.  Similarly we want to provide simple tools that will help business users decide the amount of ‘cloud’ resources required to achieve the levels of service agreed with their own customer base.”

Dr Calinescu believes small and medium enterprises in particular will benefit from the new technologies.

He added; “The ability to run applications using remote ‘cloud’ resources could significantly reduce equipment and running costs for SME’s. The clouds offer unprecedented, cost-effective flexibility, allowing individual businesses to vary the amount of compute power and data storage they use in line with fluctuating workloads – potentially by many orders of magnitude. This ability to scale resources up as well as down virtually instantaneously will put an end to the expensive practice of provisioning for peak demand.”

“Cloud computing is really just starting out as a technology in its own right and mechanisms capable of guaranteeing agreed levels of service need to be introduced and embraced to take these ideas forward.”

The three-year project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

ENDS

For further press information please contact Alex Earnshaw, Aston University Press Officer, on (0121) 204 4549 or email a.earnshaw@aston.ac.uk.

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