Rackspace And CERN Team Up For OpenStack Cloud Experiments

Rackspace uses thousands of global scientists as guinea pigs for new OpenStack cloud technologies

Managed cloud provider Rackspace has extended a cloud deal with European physics research centre CERN, the home of the Large Hadron Collider, which will see the company test its cloud services on thousands of scientists.

CERN, located in Switzerland, has an incredibly demanding computing environment, with the facility’s data centre having to store more than 30 petabytes of data per year from the numerous Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiments. This data has to be made available to thousands of global scientists in real-time, on-demand formats as experiments surrounding the Higgs Boson particle and others continue.

OpenStack clouds

To do this, CERN uses multiple OpenStack clouds that need to be integrated. For industry partners such as Rackspace, this provides the chance to test future cloud technologies in CERN’s extreme computing environment. The deal extension will see Rackspace start to develop standardised templates for OpenStack cloud orchestration, allowing scientists to spin up an environment across multiple cloud platforms with a single action.

“Open cloud platforms have been important to the scientists at CERN and the work they are doing,” Giri Fox, director of customer technology services at Rackspace, told TechWeekEurope. “Currently CERN uses Grid technology to distribute science around the world, but sees OpenStack as being the next generation.”

Scientific data from LHC experiments, © 2010 CERN

The Worldwide LHC Computing Grid comprises over 170 sites in 41 countries, with 350,000 cores processing 2 million jobs a day. “At the Portland OpenStack summit in April 2013, we agreed a project definition to collaborate in the area of “Identity Federation” in OpenStack, namely the ability to use a token generated in one OpenStack cloud to be valid in another one,” said Fox. “The next step of collaboration is to create full orchestration capability. It will enable multi-cloud solutions to be built in the Heat service and will depend on shared installation images and use of a service catalogue to identify the available cloud resources, and manage virtual machines in remote clouds with a single identity. What’s been so beneficial is that you can move workloads around easily, choosing your clouds according to performance, SLAs and data location.”

Rackspace will continue to fund a full time research fellow at CERN to help with the federation project as well as provide services and remote assistance in design and implementation from Rackspace’s product teams.

“Our CERN openlab mission is to work with industry partners to develop open, standard solutions to the challenges faced by the worldwide LHC community, said CERN’s IT infrastructure manager Tim Bell. “These solutions also often play a key role in addressing tomorrow’s business challenges. After our work on identity federation with Rackspace, this is a very important step forward. For CERN, being able to move compute workloads around the world is essential for ongoing collaboration and discovery.”

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