Last week, as part of my Web-scale IT research, I visited the Cloud and Big Data Laboratory at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). I met with Paul Rad (Director, The University of Texas at San Antonio Cloud and Big Data Laboratory and Vice President of Open Research at Rackspace), Professor Rajendra Boppana (Interim Chair of Computer Science Department), Carlos Cardenas (Manager at Cloud and Big Data Laboratory, CS Dept at UTSA) and Joel Wineland (Chief Technologist, IT infrastructure and Open Compute Solutions, RGS).
The organization is devoted to the research of new technologies and innovations in various areas of computing such as OpenStack and Software Defined Networks (SDN). However recently, it also became one of the two labs in the world where certification of Open Compute technology is performed (the other is in Taiwan). What is different from say testing groups within vendors is that the goal is to go deep or “full stack.” Thus the focus is on working closely with large enterprises in specific industries, i.e., financial services, healthcare/bioinformatics and energy to identify and certify key workloads (such as Monte Carlo simulation for trading organizations) that would make good candidates for scale-out, OCP environments.
While San Antonio is also the home of Rackspace who is one of the key companies supporting the Open Compute Project, another key reason that a university was selected as the site for this process was to develop a curriculum in support of the engineering and computer science schools involving technology hardware and software development. UTSA not only wants to be a place for its students to become familiar with critical open technologies, but to also act as an incubator for the development of new technologies and maybe even new companies.
In the future, there is interest in hosting a symposium to bring together technology vendors, commercial enterprises and other universities in order to expand the adoption of an Open Compute direction. More on this later.
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