Thursday, May 16, 2013

150,000 cloud virtual machines will help solve mysteries of the Universe

OpenStack, Puppet used to build cloud for world's largest particle accelerator.


When you're running the world's largest particle accelerator, smashing particles at nearly the speed of light to understand the Universe at its most basic levels, you'd better have a great IT strategy.

That's why CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, opened a new data center and is building a cloud network for scientists conducting experiments using data from the Large Hadron Collider at the Franco-Swiss border.

CERN's pre-existing data center in Geneva, Switzerland, is limited to about 3.5 megawatts of power. "We can't get any more electricity onto the site because the CERN accelerator itself needs about 120 megawatts," Tim Bell, CERN's infrastructure manager, told Ars.

The solution was to open an additional data center in Budapest, Hungary, which has another 2.7 megawatts of power. The data center came online in January and has about 700 "white box" servers to start with. Eventually, the Budapest site will have at least 5,000 servers in addition to 11,000 servers in Geneva. By 2015, Bell expects to have about 150,000 virtual machines running on those 16,000 physical servers.

But the extra computing power and megawatts of electricity aren't as important as how CERN will use its new capacity. CERN plans to move just about everything onto OpenStack, an open source platform for creating infrastructure-as-a-service cloud networks similar to the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.

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