Today, the cloud infrastructure market is dominated by several big companies – Amazon, Google and Microsoft — but a public/business/academia partnership called the Massachusetts Open Cloud project is hoping to change that by creating an open computing marketplace where you can negotiate whatever services you need from multiple infrastructure vendors.
Peter Desnoyers, a professor at Northeastern University who helped launch the project, explained that while companies like Amazon offer useful services, they have limitations.
First of all, from an academic perspective, they have a closed system. That means their internal team has access to the system for research purposes, but anyone outside the company like academics who want to study the system and present papers are shut out. While they can go to company conferences and hear employees present papers, they can’t get deep inside the system and that’s a real problem for him and his fellow academics.
The other is that Amazon and other IaaS vendors offer what he calls the “Henry Ford” approach to IaaS. You can have any color you want as long it’s black. In other words, they have certain products they have packaged together. The trouble with this approach though, Desnoyers explained, is that people often have very specialized requirements, and the way Amazon designs its products shuts those people out or makes it prohibitively expensive if they need specialized services.
Desnoyers says that the project hopes to create a marketplace where multiple vendors can come together and offer their services in an ad-hoc kind of way, so you might get your compute power from one vendor, your storage from a second and your memory from a third. The vendors seem like to this approach and include industry heavyweights Cisco, Juniper, Intel, Red Hat and others.
The colleges involved include Harvard, MIT, UMass Amherst, Boston University and Northeastern.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is also involved and the project will be housed at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke, Mass.