UT partners with SunGard, research safe way to file-share

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When searching for an academic institution to partner with for research purposes, SunGard Availability Services needed a great city and a top-rate institution. They found both in a recent partnership with UT-Austin.

SunGard was looking for an academic institution with quality research to further explore the area of cloud-based technologies, which aim to provide easier access to shared resources and information through networks. The company is partnering with the Department of Computer Science using the new Cloud Computing Research Center.

Computer Science Professor and Executive Committee member Keshav Pingali said SunGard CTO Indu Kodukula was a former doctorate student of his and selected UT after scoping out other top-10 schools.

“We’re doing very good research here in areas that interest SunGard,” Pingali said. “The University was welcoming and flexible and that really helped.”

Pingali said the idea behind cloud technology lies in sharing information with others in a reliable and safe way.

“The idea is that there are going to be these big servers and that all your files will be sitting on a server,” Pingali said. “It’s like having a web address — you tell people so they can directly get the information from there.”

Pingali said cloud computing is more reliable because it avoids the problem of individual computer crashes but also presents safety concerns that are currently being addressed through research.

“On a laptop, you can shut it down and no one can have access to it. But when you want to share that information, there are these new security issues that come up,” Pingali said. “How do you make sure that information is secure? That’s one of the things SunGard wants to work on. We have one of the best security groups in the world working in the computer science department on that project.”

SunGard CTO Indu Kodukula mentioned two specific projects the partnership is looking at.

“One project is the adoption of the exabyte scale, and being able to provide that for objects, files and block-oriented storage,” Kodukula said. “Another project is using the presence of cores within a processor to speed up the hypervisor and drive high levels of performance.”

Other upcoming projects will include addressing security issues as well as speeding up the process of sharing information, Pingali said.

“People will use it only if they can get hold of information quickly,” Pingali said. “How do you build these servers in such a way that they can take millions of requests and then quickly turn around these requests and get the information they want?”

SunGard also hopes to involve both undergraduate and graduate students in these projects, Pingali said, and employees will be on campus interacting with students.

The quality of students at UT is another reason SunGard chose to partner, Pingali said.

“Like every company, they’re looking for first-rate people to employ,” he said. “They were very impressed with the students at UT — they’re hoping to use the lab as a way of finding students and graduates and employing them at SunGard. It’s very student-centered.” 

Printed on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 as: SunGard picks UT to help improve on cloud computing