Rackspace and UT San Antonio Build Advanced OpenStack-based Software Platform for Academic Research

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rackspace Hosting the open cloud company, and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have designed, built and deployed an advanced academic research software platform based upon OpenStack technologies. This new computational power resource has been designed to revolutionize the way scientists and scholars use technology to accelerate their research efforts.

Academic and scientific research typically involves the construction of mathematical and numerical models to solve scientific and engineering problems. Traditionally, these complicated and intensive computational models have been implemented on complex super computers or a high-performance computing (HPC) infrastructure with high maintenance demands. With cloud computing, researchers are freed from managing IT equipment and can put greater focus on their research initiatives.

“We are pleased to have worked with UTSA to build them a hybrid cloud platform featuring Rackspace Private Cloud and public Open Cloud solutions to help them advance their efforts around research and academics. This solution will enable UTSA to run scientific computations and big-data such as bioinformatics, aircraft digital twins, energy exploration research, and digital human model & real-time surgical control on an open cloud solution,” said Paul Rad, VP, Private Cloud Technology Alliance Program at Rackspace.

“To support the type of collaboration and initiatives expected from a premier research institution, UTSA decided early-on that the cloud was going to have to be open,” said Jeff Prevost, coordinator of UTSA cloud initiatives. “An OpenStack based foundation became the obvious choice for us, not only because of our relationship with Rackspace, but also because of the private and public structure possibilities. The flexibility of this hybrid environment is a compelling enabler for the research we are doing.”

Rackspace is also providing a significant amount of training and development to UTSA, helping to drive adoption and effective use of the OpenStack powered private cloud. The ability for researchers and students to leverage this new platform allows for massive scale, flexibility and speed in research.

The hardware for this new scientific endeavor was provided by a grant through Rackspace co-founder and Chairman Graham Weston's 80/20 Foundation, which provides grants to public charities centered on turning San Antonio into the next entrepreneurial hub, promoting technology skills for the jobs of tomorrow and giving San Antonio more urban options.

“The demands made by applications and the needs of computer users are constantly spiraling upward,” said Dr. Mo Jamshidi, chair, UTSA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “We were challenged by the physical limitations of our computers and wanted to find a new computing plateau where we could have the freedom to explore the full potential of our research. Rackspace’s Hybrid Cloud has given us real computing freedom and made the technology itself even more useful.”

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