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Yahoo launches open-source distributed computing center

Yahoo is opening up a massive supercomputing center for the community. Good move.

In a sign that the web world finally recognizes its debt to open source, Yahoo is opening up an advanced research and development center - with a massive computing lab - to allow developers and researchers to test their systems software. In other words, Yahoo is opening up one of its labs to let people experiment with Yahoo/Internet-scale applications.

This is very cool.

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo said the program is intended to leverage its leadership in Hadoop, an open source distributed computing sub-project of the Apache Software Foundation, to enable researchers to modify and evaluate the systems software running on a 4,000 processor supercomputer provided by Yahoo.

"Unlike other companies and traditional supercomputing centers, which focus on providing users with computers for running applications and for coursework, Yahoo's program focuses on pushing the boundaries of large-scale systems software research," the company said.

Yahoo and other web companies have often said that their innovations have no relevance for the rest of the world; that their source code would make no difference to anyone else because what average user needs a 4,000 processor supercomputer? While true as far as it goes (not very far), this announcement demonstrates that Yahoo understands that there are, in fact, a lot of people/organizations out there that need to work at Internet scale but lack the facilities. This is a great step toward helping them.

It's also an indication that Yahoo continues to be the web company that has been the most aggressive about engaging with the open-source development community.