IBM Teams With Universities On Big Data, Analytics Research

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2014-01-30
 
 
 

IBM Teams With Universities On Big Data, Analytics Research


IBM and Texas A&M University System announced a broad research collaboration to drive computational sciences research through big data and analytics.

Big Blue said the collaboration will leverage the power of big data analytics and high performance computing (HPC) systems for solutions across a spectrum of challenges, such as improving extraction of Earth-based energy resources, facilitating the smart energy grid, accelerating materials development, improving disease identification and tracking in animals, and fostering better understanding and monitoring of our global food supplies.

“Combining the intellectual and technological resources of Texas A&M University and IBM will further position Texas as a leader in identifying and solving some of the most complex challenges we face,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. “The work that will be done here will change lives and potentially save lives not just in our state, but our nation and around the world.”

IBM will provide the infrastructure for the joint research consisting of the company’s Blue Gene/Q technology, Power and System x servers and General Parallel File Systems (GPFS) Storage Systems. A test of the Blue Gene/Q on campus found that it ran a material sciences problem that previously took weeks to solve and produced a solution in "a fraction of an hour" with much greater analytical depth.

“The Texas A&M System and IBM share a passion and a commitment to research that identifies practical solutions to global challenges,” said Chancellor John Sharp of the Texas A&M University System in a statement. “As the largest research university in the state, this agreement is a major step forward for the A&M System in research computing power. This brings together the best computer scientists and technology in the world to focus on issues so important to our role as a leading research institution and to our land-grant mission of serving the state while also providing resources to serve the greater good throughout the world.”

IBM Research and the A&M System intend to align skills, assets and resources to pursue fundamental research, applied development, educational reach and sustainable commercial activities with projects that may include sustainable availability of food; disease Spread Tracking, Modeling and Prediction; energy resource management and new materials development, including atomic-level modeling, design and testing of new materials for advanced applications in energy, aerospace, structural and defense applications.

As a premier engineering research agency of Texas, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), which conducts research to provide practical answers to critical state and national needs, will be heavily involved from the Texas A&M University System and according to Katherine Banks, director of TEES and vice chancellor of engineering, “This is a unique opportunity to meet the needs of engineering, geosciences and agriculture and life sciences researchers to expand in areas not feasible before with small-scale HPC systems.”

“IBM and the Texas A&M System have crafted a unique collaboration that could apply computational science and big data analytics to some of the most daunting problems in agriculture, geosciences and engineering,” said William LaFontaine, vice president of High Performance Analytics and Cognitive Markets at IBM, in a statement. “With the combined research capabilities of both institutions and ready access to state-of-the-art computing technology, we feel this collaboration could produce significant scientific insights leading to industry-changing solutions and material economic impact. We are extremely pleased to be engaged with such extraordinarily capable institutions in the A&M System and look forward to years of discovery and innovation.”

TEES partners with academic institutions, governmental agencies, industries and communities to solve problems to help improve the quality of life, promote economic development and enhance the educational systems of Texas. It is intimately connected with the College of Engineering of Texas A&M University, which is undergoing an unprecedented growth to become a college with 25,000 students by the year 2025 and hire a new generation of faculty who will be addressing the nation’s needs for research and technology development.

IBM Teams With Universities On Big Data, Analytics Research


Blue Gene/Q will serve as the foundation of the computing infrastructure. A Blue Gene/Q system consisting of two racks, with more than 2,000 compute nodes, will provide 418 teraflops (TF) of sustained performance for big data analytics, complex modeling and simulation of molecular dynamics, protein folding and organ modeling.

Moreover, 75 PowerLinux 7R2 servers with POWER7+ microprocessors will be connected by 10GbE into a system optimized for big data and analytics and high performance computing. This complex includes IBM BigInsights and Platform Symphony software, IBM Platform LSF scheduler and IBM General Parallel File System.

The solution also will feature an estimated 900 IBM System x dense hyperscale compute nodes as part of an IBM NeXtScale system. Some of the nodes will be managed by Platform Cluster Manager Advanced Edition (PCM-AE) as a University-wide HPC cloud while the others will be managed by Platform Cluster Manager Standard Edition (PCM-SE) and serve as a general purpose compute infrastructure for the geosciences and open-source analytics initiatives.

Moreover, IBM’s Platform Computing software will be used to manage and accelerate various computational workloads. Platform Symphony will drive big data and analytics, and Platform LSF will drive traditional HPC and technical computing workloads. Platform Computing will also power the creation of an HPC cloud, allowing users within the A&M System access to the system.

And five IBM System x GPFS Storage Servers (GSS) will provide five petabytes (PB) of shared storage for use by the compute building blocks using high-speed networks. GPFS will also include an IBM FlashSystem 820 tier with 10 terabytes (TB) of flash storage, delivering performance to accelerate computation for use primarily by Texas A&M Agrilife Research, Geosciences and university HPC as a part of the research computing infrastructure.

Furthermore, IBM will work with researchers at the A&M System to assess new computing technologies that will be necessary to advance data-driven science discovery and innovation over the next several years.

In other news, IBM and Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev announced their intention to establish a Center of Excellence for Security and Protection of Infrastructure and Assets, located in Beer-Sheva, Israel. This new joint venture will develop a curriculum that will help train the next generation of professionals, as well as perform leading edge scientific research on emerging areas like big data and cloud computing.

"By collaborating with a global leader like IBM, we will be able to expand and continue to develop our research capacity," said University President Professor Rivka Carmi in a statement. “Cloud and big data are changing how we secure data in the public sector. This center will enable IBM security and infrastructure experts to work collaboratively with the university’s leading academic researchers.”

This joint venture will be housed at the BGU Alon Building for Hi-Tech, enabling IBM and university researchers to team and build on the developing ecosystem in the region. Working collaboratively with private and public organizations, scientists and academics will collaborate to better understand how to secure and protect critical infrastructure and data. For example, as the Internet of things becomes more pervasive, it is increasingly important to address the security of devices and machines that connect to the Internet, in addition to traditional digital assets.

"Today's announcement reinforces IBM's commitment to accelerate innovation that meets the industry's most pressing long term business requirements," said Steve Mills, senior vice present and group executive for IBM Software & Systems, in a statement. "Our ongoing investments and rich history of patent leadership is helping our clients secure and protect their infrastructure and data in today's new era of big data and cloud computing. Our partnership with Ben-Gurion University will help extend innovation not only in Israel but around the world."

IBM has been in Israel for more than 60 years and opened its first research facility in Haifa in 1972. IBM has acquired more than a dozen companies in Israel, and more than 1,000 software and hardware developers work in research and development for IBM in Israel. This announcement of the new Center of Excellence for Security and Protection of Infrastructure and Assets in Beer-Sheva will complement IBM's worldwide network of 25 security labs.

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