| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Three tech giants --
Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Yahoo -- said on Tuesday they are
teaming up on a research project to help turn Web services into
reliable, everyday utilities.
The companies are joining forces with academic researchers
in Asia, Europe and the United States to create an experimental
network that lets researchers test "cloud-computing" projects
-- Web-wide services that can reach billions of users at once.
Their goal is to promote open collaboration among industry,
academic and government researchers by removing financial and
logistical barriers to working on hugely computer-intensive,
Founding members of the consortium said they aim to create
a level playing field for individual researchers and
organizations of all sizes to conduct research on software,
network management and the hardware needed to deliver Web-wide
services as billions of computer and phone users come online.
"No one institution or company is going to figure this
out," said Prabhakar Raghavan, the head of Yahoo Research who
is also a consulting professor of computer science at nearby
Cloud computing has become the industry's biggest buzzword.
It is a catch-all term to describe how Internet-connected
hardware and software once delivered as discreet products can
be managed as Web-based, utility-like services.
"Potentially the entire planet will come to rely on this,
like electricity," Raghavan said, referring to the push to make
everything from daily communications to shopping to
entertainment into always-available, on-demand Web services.
"We are all trying to move from the horse driving the wagon
to a million ants driving the wagon," Raghavan said of the need
to let computers manage millions of small jobs, adding that the
available capacity on the Web would vary widely. "The challenge
can be a billion ants one day and a million ants the next."
Big industry players from Google Inc to Microsoft Corp to
IBM all jumped on the cloud-computing as a way to create Web
services on an unprecedented scale -- in effect, forming
barriers to entry for smaller companies.
By contrast, HP, the world's top computer maker, Intel, the
biggest maker of semiconductors, and Yahoo, a Web pioneer with
some of the biggest audiences for online services, are creating
an open network run on data centres from many companies.
"It is an overstatement to say we have a firm grip on all
the technical challenges involved," said Intel Research vice
president Andrew Chien, adding: "It's not that easy for small
innovators to do things" that run reliably across the Web.
Chien said Intel's involvement will help it learn how to
build chips to power ever-larger Web tasks but use less energy.
The chipmaker also sees a general benefit to the industry by
encouraging the widest possible participation by researchers.
HP, Intel and Yahoo have partnered with the state-run
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign -- which 15 years ago gave birth
to the Web browser -- and Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of
Technology. The Illinois partnership also involves the U.S.
National Science Foundation.
The test network will consist of data centres run by each
of the six initial partners, and be based largely on HP
hardware and Intel microprocessors. Machines at each location
will dedicate 1,000 to 4,000 processor chips, backers said.
Details can be found at research.yahoo.com/cloud.
(Editing by Braden Reddall)