Cloud Computing: Lose the Hard Drive

Lose the hard drives and disks. Cloud computing is the future,and UT is there.

Free-associate the word “cloud.” Rain, snow, electrons, and even one’s judgment may come to mind. And in the age of digital media, another reference is floating around: cloud computing.

Everyone’s been talking about this online storage technology, which allows files to be kept remotely on a distant server. Don’t have your laptop with you? No problem. You can access your files from any computer, and then easily collaborate with others to make changes.

Staying on the leading edge of technology research, UT’s Department of Computer Science is joining the conversation by partnering with SunGard Availability Services, a Fortune 500 company, to establish one of the nation’s first cloud computing research centers.

Using $500,000 of seed funding, UT faculty members, grad students, and even undergrads will collaborate with SunGard executives to tackle some of cloud computing’s biggest problems—from encryption and networking to access control and mobile computing—in hopes of creating a product worth commercializing.

“This technology is immediately relevant,” says Keshav Pingali, a UT computer science professor and CCRC executive committee member. “The ultimate challenge of research is to create something that is useful in the marketplace.”

Though the research center, which will be housed in the new Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex, just began operation in January, it’s already got big dreams and a hefty to-do list.

First up: creating an exabyte-scale storage system of University research—no easy feat, considering the large amount (one quintillion bytes) of data and the need for fast access. But Pingali says there’s no university better suited to take on this challenge.

“We’re strong all around—even top 10 in some rankings,” Pingali says of the Department of Computer Science. “We have a strong research focus and are lucky enough to be located in Austin, a hub for technology such as this.”


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