Four Universities to Take Advantage of Yahoo!’s Cloud Computing Resources

Yahoo! announced it has expanded its partnerships with top U.S. universities to advance cloud computing research.

The University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will join Carnegie Mellon University in using Yahoo!’s cloud computing cluster to conduct large-scale systems software research and explore new applications that analyze Internet-scale data sets, ranging from voting records to online news sources.

To date, academic researchers have had limited access to Internet-scale supercomputers for conducting systems and applications research. To help alleviate this obstacle, Yahoo! is granting these four universities access to the Yahoo! cloud computing cluster. The Yahoo! cluster, also known as M45, has been operational since November 2007 and in use by Carnegie Mellon. The cluster has approximately 4,000 processor-cores and 1.5 petabytes of disks.

“We have been using the Yahoo! cluster for more than a year now and have made significant progress in a number of key research areas, resulting in the publication of more than two dozen academic papers,” said Randal E. Bryant, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. “Our researchers were able to extract and process documents from the Web in a way that was not possible before, changing the way we think about research problems. We were also able to conduct research over a corpus of 200 million Web pages, processing two orders of magnitude more data. We conducted systems software research, comparing, for example, the performance of the Hadoop file system and other parallel file systems. The simultaneous access to applications and systems software has been a real benefit and we look forward to our continued partnership with Yahoo! and joint contributions to the cloud computing community.”

Yahoo!’s M45 cluster runs Hadoop, an open source distributed file system and parallel execution environment that enables its users to process massive amounts of data. Apache Hadoop is an open source project of the Apache Software Foundation, to which Yahoo! engineers have been the primary contributors to date.

“Hadoop powers many of our most broadly used and complex systems at Yahoo!, from Web search to optimizing content for the home page,” said Shelton Shugar, senior vice president of cloud computing at Yahoo!. “Continuing to invest in the open source community and in technologies like Hadoop is an important element in our efforts to drive breakthroughs in Internet-scale computing and ultimately to continually improve the quality of the consumer experience of Yahoo!. By partnering with these top educational institutions to share our M45 cluster and our technical expertise, we hope to further key insights into the next generation of systems software research and development.”

“Our partnership with Yahoo! will enable us to attack problems ranging from wildlife preservation and biodiversity, to balancing socio-economic needs and the environment, to large-scale deployment and management of renewable energy sources,” said Bob Constable, dean of the faculty of Computing and Information Science at Cornell University.

“Yahoo!’s supercomputing cluster will enable us to do data-intensive research on a large set of scanned books drawn from the Internet Archive’s million-book collection. The latter includes 8.5 terabytes of text and half a petabyte of scanned images. Research on such large datasets would not be possible without the use of clusters like the one Yahoo! is offering us access to,” said Jim Kurose, dean of College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

In July 2008, Yahoo! joined forces with HP, Intel, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) in Singapore, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany to create Open Cirrus, a global, multi-data center, open source testbed for advancing cloud computing research and education. The partnership with Illinois also includes the National Science Foundation, creating a cloud computing cluster that is made available to the entire reach of the NSF academic community. The international partnership promotes open collaboration among industry, academia and governments by removing the financial and logistical barriers to research in data-intensive, Internet-scale computing. As the Yahoo! M45 cluster is part of the Open Cirrus cloud computing testbed, the above universities will also gain access to and be part of the Open Cirrus community.