Google and IBM are betting the (server) farm on cloud computing. The New York Time is reporting that the two tech giants are investing up to $30 million to develop programs to help teach cloud computing concepts to students at six American universities. Google is building a 1,600 processor data center that will run both Google and IBM machines and open source software (including Linux, XEN virtualization software, Apache Hadoop, and open source versions of Google's own internal systems including the Google File System). IBM is also supposedly working on a data center.
For the six universities involved in the project, that means access to a small scale version of the type of data center that runs Google's own search engine and applications on which to teach students about cloud computing. Distributed computing works by creating clusters of commodity hardware that run on an interconnected grid and allow web applications to scale without the need for expensive, large-scale server farms.
"This project combines IBM's historic strengths in scientific, business and secure-transaction computing with Google's complementary expertise in Web computing and massively scaled clusters," said Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman, president and chief executive officer of IBM in a press release. "We're aiming to train tomorrow's programmers to write software that can support a tidal wave of global Web growth and trillions of secure transactions every day."
The SETI@Home project is probably the most famous distributed computing project, but many of the online services we use today utilize data centers with thousands of commodity servers operating in tandem using the same basic concept. Last year WIRED published an article indicated that Microsoft, Yahoo!, Google, and IAC (Ask.com) were all turning toward cloud computing concepts to save money while still scaling their hosting platforms to support their massive numbers of users. Amazon already offers access to their compute cloud as a service.
Google and IBM are betting that cloud computing will continue to be important on the web and by training future engineers on their tools they can ensure themselves access to the top minds in the field.