HP, Intel, Yahoo join forces on cloud computing research

New "test bed" project will give companies, as well as partnering researchers, access to top-notch hardware for exploring the future of the hot server-outsourcing technology.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
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Caroline McCarthy
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This post was updated at 10 a.m. PDT to include further comments from the companies.

Hewlett-Packard, Intel, and Yahoo announced Tuesday that they've teamed up to create a "test bed" project for research in cloud computing, the umbrella term for outsourcing hardware and software capabilities rather than handling them locally.

With the rather dry name of The HP, Intel, and Yahoo Cloud Computing Test Bed, the open-source project will consist of data centers around the globe "to promote open collaboration among industry, academia, and governments by removing the financial and logistical barriers to research in data-intensive, Internet-scale computing." They've partnered with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as well as the National Science Foundation.

Using largely HP hardware and Intel processors, six initial data centers will be built at those locations, each with 1,000 to 4,000 processor cores (that's probably about 125 to 500 servers). Though research has already begun "in bits and pieces," all the centers are expected to become fully functional later this year. Researchers from all three companies as well as the host institutions will have access to the project.

The three companies declined to state how much each had contributed financially, but did say that each was responsible for committing hardware and people to do the research.

When HP Labs underwent a major reorganization in March, it named large-scale cloud services as a key focus. Labs Director and company Senior Vice President Prith Banerjee said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters that the project is important to HP because "we believe we are entering a new era called 'Everything as a Service,'" where devices and services will "interact seamlessly through the cloud. To realize the full potential, the tech industry must think of the cloud as a platform."

Yahoo's commitment to cloud computing stems from its involvement in the Apache Hadoop project, an open-source project for large-scale data processing, similar to Google's proprietary MapReduce software. Yahoo formed a cloud computing group as part of a major reorganization in June, and earlier this year partnered with a research facility in India to make one of the world's fastest supercomputers available for cloud computing research.

The three founding companies said they were "open" to adding additional partners in the future and stressed the open-source element of the project, saying that HP, Yahoo, and Intel were each committed to using information gleaned from the test beds and contributing it to open-source projects both commercially and for further research.

CNET News' Erica Ogg and Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.