European scientists announced two weeks ago that they had confirmed the existence of an elementary particle responsible for endowing objects in the universe with mass. The isolation of the particle, the Higgs boson, not only represents a great advancement in particle physics, but also reflects the impressive capabilities and unlimited possibilities of cloud computing. Why? Because the scientists that performed the research on the Higgs boson made heavy use of the same kind of information technologies as IronOrbit and other commercial clouds.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) conducted the experiments that revealed the critical particle. The centerpiece of its efforts was the Large Hadron Collider—a 17-mile-circumference particle accelerator that smashes protons together at blazing speeds in order to elicit high-energy reactions. Thousand-ton detectors inside the accelerator captured, analyzed, and transferred the data of these collisions at rates of 300 GB/s. The detectors filter the data for relevancy (reporting only 1 out of every 200,000 collisions) before sending the results at a rate of about 19 GB/min to the next processing step—the Grid, CERN’s private cloud
CERN’s Grid has three distinct levels or Tiers. At Tier 0 inside the CERN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 50,000 computing cores receive and sift through the information that comes directly from the LHC detectors. Via 10 GB/s dedicated networks Tier 0 routes data to specific Tier 1 sites. There are 11 Tier 1 facilities: 6 in Western Europe, 3 in North America, 1 in Scandinavia, and 1 in Southeast Asia (Taiwan). Each Tier 1 center contains comprehensive and accessible electronic records of a distinct experiment associated with the LHC. Tier 1 sites also possess surplus computing power to assist with the most complex analyses. Finally, Tier 2 sites (140 locations in universities and research labs) provide end-user access to researchers around the world. Tier 2 centers mainly permit scientists to access the data and computing power of the Tier 1 centers. Tier 1 sites also retrieve the computations from the Tier 2 sites for permanent storage.
Despite its unorthodox structure, the Grid possesses several characteristics that allow it to be classified as a cloud, including:
For example, the Grid permits different organizations and people in different locations to access and employ collectivized computing resources. Researchers in Tier 2 sites have the ability to perform computations with CPUs and storage devices in the Tier 1 and other Tier 2 sites. The Grid allocates these resources intuitively; the user does not have to initiate separate connections or processes. The users of the Grid do not affect each other’s performance or connectivity. Similarly, a user of a cloud-based service such as Twitter shares the resources of the social media site’s data centers with millions of other users. Twitter also intuitively provides more computing resources to you when you post larger messages or photos.
IronOrbit utilizes the same technology behind the Grid to provide our customers with cost-effective yet powerful and reliable hosted solutions. Just like a CERN researcher, you can access your cloud from anywhere in the world with a web-enabled device. With our web-hosted solutions, employees in different locations can maintain consistent files and share access to the same applications. When your organization grows, you can scale up the power and capacity of your solutions in order to support your increasing IT requirements. With a cloud from IronOrbit you have the power of the world’s most advanced information technology systems in your hands.