Innovation and growth

Cloud Computing

Australia’s Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering formed a Working Group in August 2008 on Cloud Computing at Peta-scale.

Recognising that cloud computing at Internet scale is an emerging technology of importance to the information and communications technology capacity of Australia and the competitiveness of its innovation capability, our Academy established the group to report on relevant aspects of this disruptive technology. Its goals were to clearly communicate the essence of cloud computing (amid a score of definitions) and to identify the benefits, costs, risks and opportunities provided by cloud computing at Internet scale. Moreover, current barriers such as lack of interoperability between different clouds, geo-political constraints on moving data globally, and perceptions on limitations in security and privacy were to be discerned.

We restricted our study to cloud computing as an applications enabler for Australian government, business, and scientific research as opposed to an area of research in computer science itself.

Given that the group brought a fresh eye to government investment strategies for research infrastructure, it was also required to comment on the existing landscape, especially impediments to the adoption of cloud computing for the benefit of Australian science.

The working group has industry members from Google, Microsoft Research, and IBM and researchers from NICTA, CSIRO ICT Centre, and ARCS, as well as the following universities: Adelaide, ANU, Monash, QUT, Sydney, and UNSW.

The Chair of the Working Group was Dr J Craig Mudge FTSE FAICD.

The Academy’s Report was released October 14 2010

Read full pdf >>

ATSE thanks the Working Group formed to prepare a draft report and for inputs received from a variety of sources during the course of the project. ATSE is also most grateful to CSIRO and NICTA for providing financial support for the project, which has enabled travel as well as covering a student prize, a subscription to a wiki and other expenses.

To obtain more diversity, experts from outside the Academy were invited to join the Working Group on Cloud Computing at Peta Scale (the Working Group). All members of the Working Group were volunteers who offered their time, and in some cases, resources from their institutions. The Working Group members were:

  • J Craig Mudge FTSE, (Chair), Pacific Challenge and the University of Adelaide
  • David Abramson, Monash University
  • Gordon Bell FTSE, Microsoft Research
  • Jim Hogan, Queensland University of Technology
  • Anna Liu, NICTA and the University of NSW
  • Alan Noble, Google Engineering Director, Australia
  • Robin Stanton FTSE, Pro-Vice Chancellor , the Australian National University
  • Andrew Wendelborn, University of Adelaide
  • Glenn Wightwick, IBM Australia Development Laboratory
  • Tony Williams, ARCS, Platforms for Collaboration
  • Darrell Williamson, CSIRO eResearch
  • John Zic, CSIRO ICT Centre
  • Albert Zomaya, the University of Sydney

In addition to regular meetings, some Working Group members undertook several small projects including measuring latency in using overseas clouds, extending ARCS grid capability to include Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), trialling an accountability mechanism to improve trust in outsourced data management, and an eHealth project. One university research laboratory located its source-code control system SVN in Amazon’s storage service.

These activities of the Working Group informed the understanding, and potential use, of cloud computing for Australia.

Student internships

An exciting opportunity for Australian students, both postgraduate and undergraduate, was announced in October 2009. The working group called for proposals advocating novel applications of computing clouds answering the questions: how could a cloud platform be used to solve a previously intractable problem or to deliver services in a new and scalable way?

Working group members from QUT, Monash, and CSIRO hosted 2009-10 summer intern projects. Projects in machine learning for profiling, a cloud-based scanner on a smart phone, and accountability as a cloud service were selected through a competition for student project proposals that drew 23 entries.

The selected proposals were offered a paid summer internship with a member organisation, and provided with supervision, equipment and access to a variety of cloud services.

At the end of the summer, the students submitted their results of their projects in a further competition.

The winner
The winner was Jinhui Yao of Sydney University with a project in an important area of security, “Accountability as a service for the cloud” hosted by CSIRO ICT Centre.