A welcome development in the field of technical education in the Universities in the United States has recently been reported in the media. This was made possible arising out of the outcome of the joint efforts of two technology giants, to provide easy access to the use of the cluster of computers.
Their joint endeavor seeks to provide for hardware, software and other services necessary to teach large distributed computing. This will enable many Universities to gain access to the big cluster of computers.
This achievement, is the fruition of a dream of a 26-year-old graduate, from the University of Washington, who started his career as a software engineer, five years ago. Encouraged by the gesture of his employer, in allowing to utilize 20% of the ‘unstructured portion of the workweek time,’
On projects that would benefit the company, he profitably used this concession in his participation of recruiting young programmers for the company. By this act, he established his adoption of the ethos of his employers, ‘computers and software can be used to make the world a better place.’
In his initiative to improve the curriculum of Computer Science in Universities
He discovered a lacuna, even in the best programs that students handled. There was this glaring weakness. viz:’
how to solve problems in obtaining and using massive computers and terabytes of data ( 1 TERA BYTE=1TRILLION BYTES-). He utilized this as an opportunity, to further his idea and was helped by his mentor, Mr. Ed Lasowaska. who holds the ‘BILL and Malinda Gates Chair of Computer Science and Engineering’, at the University of Washington.
The enormous difficulties facing the modern world to find solutions to diverse problems, pose a challenge to the computer engineers and the scientific community, who require the huge infrastructure of the cluster of computers to solve the massive amount of data analysis, which are beyond the scope of individual Universities.
This sparked in him an idea for finding a way, to spread the computing power, not merely to the University of Washington alone, but to all the colleges in the country, through the Internet. Starting this project, with the initial help of just two fellow colleagues and with the help of two other internees during summer vacation, he went ahead to clean up the course material.
By this time, the two technology giants made a joint announcement on the use of the cluster of computers. Their announcement proclaimed that ‘ the two would dedicate to supply a cluster of several hundred computers, to train computer science students, in the area of large-scale computing practice’.
The clusters which will be located in the respective data centers of these corporations, and at the University of Washington, are expected to include more than 1600 processors. The joint initiative, involving an expenditure of several million dollars, aims to train future programmers, to write software that can sustain a tidal wave of global web growth and trillions of secure transactions every day.
Six Universities are initially expected to take part and the program envisages, use of ‘open source software,’ including the computing infrastructure of a major major technology giant. The practice of running programs in clusters of supercomputers termed ‘cloud computing,’ has caught up the attention of reputed concerns, as a new business opportunity and are expected to be available as a utility like electricity or water soon.