How MIT Uses OpenStack To Power Research

When a team of Rackers powered up our Cloud in a Box for training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this week, it wasn’t the only OpenStack deployment running at MIT. Not far from our classroom, the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has its own significant OpenStack deployment that has increased computational capacity available to researchers by 25 percent to 50 percent, enabling more research projects, according to Jon Proulx, senior system architect.

Proulx set up the OpenStack deployment six months ago as a new way for CSAIL’s 1,000 members to work on projects ranging from natural language processing to biomedical imaging to machine learning algorithms.

The CSAIL OpenStack deployment now has more than 50 users, working on 20 different projects, bursting compute power as they need it. The move to open source cloud computing is also delivering cost savings to MIT. Researchers previously were paying commercial cloud providers, which could quickly became too expensive. Those same researchers now have access to OpenStack at no charge. In fact, Proulx says few, if any, of the current research projects running on the MIT OpenStack cluster would be running at all if not for OpenStack.

Proulx studied OpenStack’s documentation and then built the deployment using existing hardware in about two weeks, which is impressive for such a large cluster.

While the deployment is still relatively new, Proulx believes he will soon expand it to include more capacity and capabilities, including file storage.

See more about CSAIL’s use of OpenStack in this video:

OpenStack Training At MIT Concludes

Proulx also could soon have more OpenStack business at CSAIL, after our Rackspace Training for OpenStack team concluded a four-night class with MIT researchers, grad students and others from the area.

At the end of the last class, students applauded each other and the team – Rackers John McKenzie, Byron McCollum, Phil Hopkins and Cassandra Cortez.

Perhaps the biggest measure of success was that almost all of the students kept coming back to the class for four straight three-hour night sessions, delivered as part of MIT’s Independent Activities Period. During that time, many students went from a beginning curiosity about OpenStack to making plans about how they want to use it for their own projects.

Check out more reports from Rackspace Training for OpenStack at MIT:

To learn more about OpenStack, tune in to OpenStack 101, a brief video primer on what OpenStack is and who uses it.

Larry Meyer leads the Rackspace Creative Services team. He is a former TV reporter and anchor and passionate geek about all things tech.


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