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Bill St. Arnaud is a R&E Network and Green IT consultant who works with clients on a variety of subjects such as the next generation research and education and Internet networks. He also works with clients to develop practical solutions to reduce GHG emissions such as free broadband and dynamiccharging of eVehicles (See . View my complete profile

Sunday, March 28, 2010

85% of research computing can be done using clouds

Take a look at this great presentation by Ed Lazowska, who is the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering, Director, eScience Institute and Chair, Computing Community Consortium at the University of Washington. He heads up the eScience research institute at University of Washington. Recently they did an analysis of the computing needs of all the researchers at UoWashington. They concluded that 85% of research computing could easily use clouds. They found that it is only some very specialized research and computational scientists who need dedicated high performance computers. These findings I believe will have profound implications for funding councils, university energy costs, R&E networks and future or

1. Funding councils face an insatiable demand in research grant
applications for more computers and clusters. If most of this research could be done by using clouds then it would redirect a lot of research dollars to the actual science instead of buying expensive hardware. Of course money must now be found to pay for the cloud services but since clouds are only needed as required, the grant money isnt tied up for years in the procurement process of purchasing hardware

2. Computing and ICT represent anywhere from 30-50% of the energy
consumption at a typical research university. If a large percentage of research computing could move to clouds this would make a huge dent in a universitys energy bill.

3. As I mentioned previously if R&E networks charged fees based on an
institutions energy bill and then offered free cloud services in partnership with various cloud providers it would be a powerful incentive for researchers and institutions to move in the direction of clouds. The service is not technically free but are bundled as part of the R&Es network costs which is tied to the institutions energy consumption. If an institution reduces its energy costs it still has access to the cloud services

4. Following the above logic cloud services could be included in the
indirect costs of research much like energy is today

Ed Lazowska gave his talk at the recent CENIC conference. Thanks to BCnet for this pointer

It is included below, and I think it is important to view.

"Santa Claus takes care of the power, cooling and space at public universities."



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