Cloud Software       

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Cloud Software - overview


Computing these days is enabling companies, people, and their environment to interact in new and novel ways. These interactions are constantly evolving and changing. This requires an ecosystem that enables software applications that can be rapidly prototyped, are scalable, and can evolve quickly in the face of the constantly changing requirements. A software platform and its middleware must enable such an ecosystem by providing the right abstractions for seamless, secure, scalable, and reliable composition of multiple microservices into a solution.

 Computing relies on data centers that consist of many different kinds of machines built by many different vendors. The challenge for researchers engaged in developing efficient, fault-tolerant, and resilient software platforms is to manage these vast systems and hid their complexity from end users, programmers, and systems maintainers.

Companies are increasingly restructuring their processes, services and product lines. The last thing they need to worry about is how their software is organized and managed. Simply put, programs want to be stateless and replicable. Every software application needs to be fault-tolerant and scale indefinitely.

It's relatively easy for single workload companies to manage big workloads. But maintaining ecosystems consisting of many companies is a huge challenge for companies and industries. Our research seeks to address issues of scale, security, privacy, maintenance, efficient distribution and anticipating software failures before they happen.

Among the projects that IBM researchers are working on:

+ Container Cloud Operating System. The evolving cloud operating environment will be built using containers -- not virtual machines. Containers, consisting of the entire run-time environment, will serve as the primary means of workload virtualization and isolation and will run directly on the host operating system. Efficient packaging formats, such as Docker, will enable unprecedented workload portability across a hybrid cloud, while lightweight container design will lead to high resource utilization and much improved DevOps functionality. Check out our initial results in IBM Containers in Bluemix.

+ Cloud Infrastructure Services. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings are giving clients almost instantaneous access to significant compute and storage resources with no capital investment. As researchers, we're faced with challenges of stricter security requirements, service-level agreement demands, customization of service management and related business issues, enabling legacy applications in the cloud, and the often complex deployment topology of business applications. Innovations from IBM Research include: contract-based offering and rating management; cloud business office automation and back-office integration; return-on-investment analytics for the cloud; the Fast Virtual Disk image format with copy-on-read and adaptive pre-fetching, redundancy-aware virtual image access and management; and the Virtual Hypervisor approach to fair and economical resource partitioning.

+ Blockchain. Transaction processing has a rich pedigree at IBM Research, reaching all the way back to the IBM Transaction Processing Facility on the IBM System 360. Now with the development of distributed database technology, transaction processing is taking a giant leap forward with the creation of a secure record that houses multi-party business transactions in one place — in one block-chain. IBM is a premier member of the Hyperledger Project, a cross-industry collaboration that’s developing an open standard for distributed ledgers.

We also do research in related sub-disciplines:

+ Storage. Our research includes exploratory storage systems; archive systems; autonomic storage management; scale-out file systems; solid state information systems, and storage for clouds and analytics. We are exploring how novel devices can dramatically lower the price of storage and improve performance.

Our research has established the foundation for IBM Cloud. We continue to work with customers to understand the breadth and depth of challenges that the software industry requires.

+ Services Computing. Web services, particularly, in the form of web APIs, are becoming the glue of web, cloud, mobile and machine learning applications. Within organizations, microservice architectures evolve to be the defacto way to build complex systems in agile, DevOps way, while ensuring high availability, performance, and resilience. Across organizations, with the emergence of Web API ecosystems, the API economy is driving multi-billion business. Our research includes agile API composition, API recommendation, mobile & IoT services, and machine learning as a service. We are exploring how services computing as a cross-cutting technology can facilitate the integration and interoperation in the cloud, big data and IoT space.