You can’t turn around without seeing something cloud-related from IBM these days. IBM SmartCloud Enterprise Plus, IBM SmartCloud Provisioning…the list goes on and on. But what you might not know is that some of the technologies in these products got their start in IBM’s biggest internal cloud environment. The Research Compute Cloud (or RC2 as it’s known to us) has been through several generations since its start nearly four years ago.
Conceived at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, it’s proven itself a valuable incubator for cloud technologies. RC2 has experienced phenomenal growth since it’s start. With nearly 70,000 VMs provisioned, RC2 has experienced more rapid growth and usage than even our wildest expectations.
Designed to give IBM researchers access to an inexpensive and flexible pool of compute resources, it has also allowed IBM to test new technologies that have found their way into the IBM SmartCloud family of products.
RC2 is a true ”living lab” for cloud technologies. You can read more about some of these experiences in the IBM Research Report on RC2. This report, published in 2010, details V2 of RC2. Research into image management was one of the areas that we first explored in RC2. Scalable patch management of images, described in another IBM Research Report describes the Mirage image library. This technology is used in one of IBM’s entry-level cloud products, the IBM Websphere Cloudburst Appliance. This technology fueled the rapid growth of RC2 in the research and development communities inside IBM. In 2010, we began the transformation of RC2 from V2 to V3, with the goals of of increased scalability, rapid provisioning, and improved infrastructure management.
The latest version of RC2, V3, uses IBM SmartCloud Provisioning to rapidly deploy large numbers of instances. The RC2 user community creates and destroys thousands of VMs each day. Without such rapid provisioning, we wouldn’t be able to service the large number of requests from researchers and developers. The RC2 team used early versions of IBM SmartCloud Provisioning, and contributed enhancements to instance, image, and storage technologies.
Some of the other areas that IBM Research is using RC2 for include:
- Patch Management
- Image Analytics
- Workload Management
- Monitoring and Reporting
- Storage Technologies
There are many exciting cloud technologies that IBM Research is investigating, most of which I can’t talk about. But keep an eye out for them in the coming months and years. I’m sure there are some that even I don’t know about. All of them will bring new capabilities to IBM’s cloud offerings.
I’ll be talking in more detail about various aspects of RC2 in future blog posts. You can also hear more about RC2 and the technologies behind it at the IBM SmartCloud Symposium, being held April 16-19th in San Francisco. Look me up when you are there!