Western on cloud nine with IBM, government partnership

Western University announced the formation of a new Ontario-based multi-million dollar research and development computing network today with its partners, the Governments of Canada and Ontario, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the University of Toronto.

One of the primary nodes for the newly formed Southern Ontario Smart Computing and Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) is Western’s Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing NETwork (SHARCNET). A part of Compute Canada, SHARCNET is a high performance computing consortium delivering game-changing research and innovation to the world.The computing infrastructure of Western, IBM and its university partners — with a combined expertise in high performance and cloud computing — will form a research platform unlike any other in Canada.

High performance computing refers to the use of supercomputers and computer clusters to solve advanced computational problems while cloud computing is the delivery of computing services via shared resources, software, and information over a network.

“One of the things this contribution from IBM gives Western is a tremendous start in addressing some very substantial problems in regards to dealing with large-scale data,” says Western computer sciences professor Michael Bauer, who also serves as SHARCNET’s Associate Director. “In many, many circumstances, data will become the core problem of the next decade, not in terms of generating data but in terms of what do you do with it and how do you actually glean useful information from it.”

Bauer adds Western will not only have a system with which researchers and computer scientists can begin to examine this core problem but will also receive significant software contributions  from IBM, which are necessary to extract this kind of information on a large-scale.

“Western played a leading role in establishing SHARCNET, Canada’s largest high-performance computing consortium, and we are excited to take the next step by using cloud computing to manage the staggering volume of digital data society creates on a daily basis,” says Western President Amit Chakma. “From neuroscience to our environment and industrial applications, supercomputing holds tremendous promise for helping us make complex research decisions more quickly, while mining data for better answers.”

Western’s new IBM-fueled computing system will provide excellent opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to explore the applicability of cloud computing and to address many of their computational problems.

“For the financial industry, cloud technology is ideal for solving complex latency sensitive problems on large streaming data sets in real time,” says Ben Bittrolff, Chief Financial Officer at London-based Cyborg Trading Systems. “Western joining forces with IBM on this major initiative is excellent news for all businesses, no matter the size, in Ontario, across Canada and undoubtedly around the world.”