2015 Press Releases

UCC define a new standard in cloud computing

18 Jun 2015
Professor John Morrison, UCC Image: Provision

Researchers at University College Cork are leading a €4m EU-funded research project to address energy efficiency and high performance in cloud computing. 

The project, CloudLightning, intends to develop an intelligent, power-efficient cloud computing infrastructure that will provide energy savings to cloud service providers and simplify access to cloud resources for cloud consumers.

One problem faced by cloud service providers is power efficiency in running their data centres. Current cloud computing models are homogeneous. They comprise a large number of machines, components and hardware of the same type.  This restricts computational processing power and limits what certain cloud computing users can do. Users in technical and scientific communities need access to high performance computing resources. Their needs are not met by the commoditised nature of homogeneous cloud hardware. Additionally, their usage of such resources is not always predictable and scales up and down. Cloud providers do not give these users the ability to configure resources to meet their needs. They also over-provision their computing resources to accommodate users' unpredicted peaks in demand. The result is that tens of thousands of cloud servers in data centres throughout Ireland and the world are running but are not used.

"Current cloud service delivery models operated by cloud providers are inefficient with regard to energy consumption," says Prof John Morrison of UCC.  "The typical cloud server operates at approximately 20% computing capacity. This could be increased to 80% using heterogeneous processing resources with no change to the server’s energy consumption."

Heterogeneous computing resources refers to a combination of different types of hardware and servers that all work together. This approach combines high performance computational power with power-efficient use.

CloudLightning's initial focus is on technical and scientific users in three domains: oil and gas exploration, genomics and sectors that use ray tracing.

UCC’s project partners include Intel Labs Europe, Dublin City University, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway), Institute e-Austria Timisoara (Romania), the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (Greece), Democritus University of Thrace (Greece) and Maxeler Technologies (UK). In April 2014, the consortium submitted a proposal to the European Commission's research and innovation programme, Horizon2020.  In September 2014, the Commission selected the CloudLightning project over dozens of competing submissions.

CloudLightning's research is based on the concept of autonomic computing, the ability of a computing environment to manage itself. The project will develop an intelligent system that automates the management and allocation of heterogeneous computing resources.

"The project is at an early stage," says Prof Morrison. "But our goal is to address the inefficient use of resources to deliver savings to cloud providers and cloud consumers by reducing power consumption and improving service delivery."

The project will run until January 2018 but CloudLightning will have measurable impact on its chosen application domains.  "European companies in the oil and gas and genomics industries will realise competitive advantage through improved access to faster computational resources, " says Prof Morrison.  "Similarly, by adopting the CloudLightning model, European cloud service providers can enjoy power-efficient, scalable management of their resources. And they can offer consumers easier access to high performance resources."

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF