March 08, 2011
During a recent cloud press conference in Oregon called “A Day in the Clouds” Intel’s overseer of high-density computing in its Data Center Group, Jason Waxman, generated some momentum behind Intel’s current cloud strategy and further defined where the company sees itself as the coming data center and cloud markets continue to evolve.
While Intel’s role in the shape of clouds to come is still somewhat obscure, the company certainly recognizes that it cannot sit by and rely on its booming server market to power it through changes ahead. After all, as Waxman reminded attendees, there will be at least “15 billion Internet connected devices by 2015 generating zetabytes and zetabytes of data. This not only includes smartphones, tablets and PCs, but also cars, televisions and even embedded signage.”
The chip maker has been seeing clouds on the horizon since the official launch of its Cloud Builders program, which publicly ramped up last year, despite the fact that it has been in the works since 2009. Officials claim that the company is expecting to more than double the current 25 reference implementations for clouds that are available through the program by the end of this year.
As Billy Cox who manages Intel’s Cloud Builder program told EETimes this week, there are around 30 Intel personnel dedicated to the cloudy side of Intel’s business who work with around 24 partners to solidify their vision via a number of case studies to highlight some of the most challenging issues facing the future of cloud computing, at least for those who set about to build their own private clouds or use a bursting model to make use of the public cloud according to policies.
Among some of the most pressing challenges Waxman identified are security (of course), compliance and regulatory concerns, and overall efficiency and power consumption. While the efficiency and power discussion is in Intel’s native language, the company is working hard to prove its leadership on the security, compliance and related challenging facets so that it can stay ahead in the game of chips that is heating up with a number of new chips and architectures that some might argue could eventually give Intel a run for its money.
During his cloud-driven briefing in Oregon, Waxman pointed to ways that Intel might be able to find solutions for the thorniest issues in cloud computing, including public (cloud) enemy #1, security. While there are thousands of sub-elements huddled under the security umbrella, Waxman pointed to a few highly publicized cases of clouds gone bad—or more appropriately, clouds being open to bad intentions.
One such example he proposed was the recent FBI crackdown on a cloud center to track down nefarious evil-doers, a process that involved closing down an entire datacenter to look for data that was nearly impossible to find.
As Waxman explained, there are ways that Intel is looking to make the security and regulatory environment safe from such shut-downs. He claims that the company “can work with providers to map virtual machines and data to customers and can supply advanced platform metrics and capabilities that allow providers to guage, track and understand what is happening on both a hardware and management level.” In short, Intel is making the argument that the shortest path to infrastructure salvation is via appropriate architecture.
Waxman states that Intel is “making sure that the relevant and required infrastructure will be in place for all those users and their data. Of course, the way forward is not without its share of growing pains.”
Those growing pains were addressed by Cox, who noted that there are hurdles in terms of the ease and abstraction level of cloud-building. For instance, the former HP server guru noted that it took some of Intel’s engineers around five months to take a business application off one set of servers and relocate it to a remote location while making sure to preserve its data dependencies and security policies.
In Cox’s view, when it comes to cloud computing, “There is still way too much complexity here in things like different BIOS settings that are required for different workloads.”
While Intel’s real “day in the clouds” might still be yet to come, the chip maker, unlike some of its counterparts has been putting forth some serious efforts to make sure that their future is tied to the trend that continues to build momentum.
Posted by Nicole Hemsoth - March 08, 2011 @ 8:12 PM, Pacific Standard Time
Nicole Hemsoth is the managing editor of HPC in the Cloud and will discuss a range of overarching issues related to HPC-specific cloud topics in posts.
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