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Computing as a Service

IBM Research - Haifa

Cloud Platforms

Mission: The mission of the Cloud Platforms team at IBM Research – Haifa is to develop cutting-edge compute, storage, and networking technologies for IBM's cloud services and products. Our team focuses on the IaaS layer of the cloud, covering advanced cloud computing technologies, system software and architectures, storage, and networking technologies.

Breadth of work:

  • Support for IBM's Cloud, Systems and Analytics business units, including IBM's SoftLayer and BlueMix.
  • Conduct industrial research, generating a sizable patent portfolio, publishing some of our work in top academic conferences and journals. We annually run SYSTOR, an international systems and storage conference.
  • Work closely with opensource communities such as OpenStack.
  • Our team is very active in EU research projects, mainly in the ICT areas of cloud computing and storage, networking, IoT, security, and more. We led key ICT projects, such as RESERVOIR and VISION Cloud, and are key participants in other projects.

Our work in a nutshell

Cloud Computing: In the field of cloud computing, we pioneered IBM's activities in OpenStack, the largest cloud open source project, which is today endorsed widely by all IBM units. Our work in system software focuses on the areas of virtualization, containers (Docker in particular), resource scheduling for the datacenter operating system (DCOS), elasticity and high-availability services, and DevOps. These are all vital for the cloud, and will position IBM well in this rapidly evolving reality of cloud computing. We are also conducting research on optimized infrastructure for cloud-based workloads such as Big Data analytics.

Data Center Networking: In cloud networking, we embarked on a project to develop new data center Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technology, aimed at providing network virtualization capabilities to support cloud-scale application delivery. Building on the breakthrough DOVE technology, which we developed in early 2011 and became the core of the SDN-VE product, we have become a center of excellence in SDN within IBM.

Cloud Storage: Our work in the area of storage systems focuses on developing new functions for data protection and availability, storage optimization such as compression and deduplication, and archival storage. A special area of focus is storage support for cloud computing, with an emphasis on OpenStack Swift. Object stores are highly scalable and cost-effective storage infrastructures to easily store and access data objects, and mobilize them across the cloud. We are working with IBM's Cloud unit to enhance their object store service (e.g. Softlayer Object Storage), and in parallel conduct research on differentiated functions for OpenStack Swift, such as storlets.

Cloud Data Services for Analytics and Cloud Security: We are developing data foundation services for key cloud services, such as Spark Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT). Our goal is to support heterogeneous data stores (e.g., object stores, key-value, document stores) and architect optimized integration of these stores with Big Data workloads and engines. Another new area of focus is analytics of cloud operational logs, for improved operation and enhanced security.

Past achievements

In the past, our team achieved several state-of-the-art landmarks in computer system technologies.

  • An Infiniband-based I/O architecture for IBM's accepted XIV Gen 3 Storage product, delivering unprecedented breakthroughs in storage performance.
  • As pioneers in virtualization management and virtual image management, we played a key role in the development of IBM's Virtualization Manager and VMControl Software.
  • Our research team invented Comprestimator, a tool that accurately and rapidly estimates the expected compression rate for block devices, and is widely used in IBM's storage sales and development.
  • Some of our department's earlier well-known accomplishments are (1) the invention of the now standard and highly popular iSCSI protocol for storage networks; (2) our work on the advanced Copy Services in IBM's flagship storage platform.