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August 13, 2010

Cloud infrastructures for academia - the FleSSR project

Yesterday, I attended the kick-off meeting for a new JISC-funded project called FleSSR - Flexible Services for the Support of Research. From the, as yet very new, project blog:

Our project will create a hybrid public-private Infrastructure as a Service cloud solution for academic research. The two pilot use cases chosen follow the two university partners interests, software development and multi-platform support and on-demand research data storage space.

We will be implementing open standards for cloud management through the OGF Open Cloud Computing Interface.

The project is a collaboration led by the Oxford e-Research Centre and involving STFC, Eduserv, the University of Reading, EoverI, Eucalyptus Inc. and Canonical Ltd.

Our role at Eduserv will primarily be to build a public cloud into which private clouds at Oxford and Reading can burst both compute resource and storage at times of high demand, as generated by pilot demonstrators at those two institutions. My colleagues Matt Johnson and Tim Lawrence will lead our work on this here. The clouds will be built on some variant of Eucalyptus and Ubuntu - one of the early pieces of work for the project team being to compare Open Eucalyptus, Enterprise Eucalyptus and Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud.

My own involvement with the project will start properly after Christmas and will contribute to the project's thinking about sustainable business models for cloud providers like Eduserv in this space. One of the interesting aspects of the project will be some technical work on policy enforcement and accounting that will allow business models other than 'top-sliced central-funding' to come into play in academia for this kind of provision.

I'm really looking forward to this work. The project itself, funded as part of the JISC's Flexible Service Delivery Programme, is only 10 months in duration but is attempting to cover a lot of ground very quickly. I'm very hopeful that the outputs will be of widespread interest to the community, as well as helping to shape our own potential offerings in this area.

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