Cloud refers to a combination of technologies that lets people and organizations easily deploy and rapidly refine a range of services, including computational, storage, data and network technologies. By services, we mean applications used by an end user as well as services used to construct other services. The cloud enables and manages these services to be composed on top of various cloud layers.
In a best-case scenario, using a cloud (1) enables rapid deployment that scales as large as you want without a huge capital investment, and (2) permits the composition of any applications and services to facilitate rapid improvements to the computing environment.
Isaac Newton said: If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Likewise, a programmer using the cloud can build services on top of other outstanding services. But unlike Newton, whose theories were fixed and did not undergo "improvement," improving an underlying service facilitates improvement of newly composed services as well.
For example, if you build an application that uses search, and if the search improves, so will your application. Likewise, if the storage component of a cloud becomes cheaper, operating your application will become cheaper too.
Until fairly recently, our clients were building large data centers consisting of many types of machines optimized for a small number of applications. Now these same clients require a cloud of constantly improving multilayered services because they are constantly 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.
Developing efficient, fault-tolerant and resilient software platforms to manage vast computing ecosystems is precisely what computer scientists take as their challenge. Our research seeks to address issues of scale, security, privacy, maintenance, efficient distribution and anticipating software failures before they happen.
Among the cloud 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 blockchain. IBM is a premier member of the Hyperledger Project, a cross-industry collaboration that’s developing an open standard for distributed ledgers. See also: Blockchain and Smart Contracts (India) and Blockchain (Zurich).
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.
Image credit: IBM developerWorks
Last updated on February 28, 2017