Researchers with heads in 'The Cloud' land Samsung prize

By Communications Staff
September 12, 2013

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A Western research team has won the university’s first-ever Samsung Global Research Outreach (GRO) Award, an academic research collaboration platform, held annually with a call for proposals open to the world’s leading universities.

Abdallah Shami from Western Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Hanan Lutfiyya from the Faculty of Science’s Department of Computer Science were among 74 winning proposals in 57 subjects under 14 broad research themes. Their proposal, Robust Energy-Efficient Data Center Resource Provisioning in an SDN environment, was the only Canadian winner in the ‘Big Data and Network’ theme and one of only three Canadian proposals to receive an award.

The Western-led resource management project explores energy-efficient operating options to mitigate the ever-increasing overload on cloud computing systems otherwise underutilized outside of peak demand times.

Cloud computing systems consist of many computers and storage units networked together. Each computer can be partitioned into virtual machines where each partition is associated with a specific application. Traditionally, each virtual machine is allocated a portion of computing resources (i.e. a set amount of processing time, memory) based on peak demand. However, peak demand may be relatively rare, resulting in an extraordinary underutilization of resources. 

The implication, according to Shami and Lutfiyya, is that cloud systems often have more resources than needed, thereby incurring higher energy consumption than necessary. It is not just computers that this sort of sharing can occur as this can also be true for storage units and networking. Instead of statically allocating resources based on peak demand, Shami and Lutfiyya are investigating methods to allocate resources based on average expected demand. 

Shami and Lutfiyya receive significant sponsorship from Samsung for one year. GRO awards may be renewed up to three years based on project duration, research outcomes and Samsung business needs.

Other winners include researchers from MIT, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Oxford, Cornell, University College London, Duke, Cambridge, Brown, Michigan, Turku, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Toronto and McGill.


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