Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Rackspace Builds a New Cloud for CERN, A.K.A. the Place That Invented the Web

CERN_Wooden_Dome_5There’s some interesting news on the cloud computing front today, interesting mainly because of one entity involved: CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics. That’s the place that 20 years ago created what we now call the Web.

CERN (its headquarters are pictured) has tapped Texas-based Rackspace to help it build a hybrid cloud computing system. Hybrid cloud is a term of art meaning that the hardware comprising the cloud lives in two places. The hardware that is on the customer’s premises works in concert with the hardware the service provider maintains. That means that computing capacity can be brought to bear on big workloads as needed.

Central to the effort is Openstack, the open-source cloud operating system that has been dubbed the standard for cloud computing.

CERN is the place where physicists study nothing less than the very secrets of the origins of the universe, which they do in many ways, including but not limited to smashing particles together at high speed to see what emerges. All these experiments produce a huge amount of digital data — about 25 petabytes a year — that must be analyzed.

It’s not the first time that Rackspace has worked with CERN. Previously, the company helped the lab with a system that allowed certain computing workloads to “burst” into the Rackspace public cloud as needed. This time around, they’re going to collaborate around the idea of tying up Rackspace’s public and private cloud services with other Openstack-based cloud systems that CERN already operates in its own data centers, the point being to get them working pretty seamlessly, and making the whole thing easier and less expensive to manage.

The two organizations made a short video explaining it all, including lots of shots of the Large Hadron Collider which I’ve embedded below.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik