Google today announced that it is ending its Academic Cloud Computing Initiative, a joint program with IBM and the National Science Foundation that gave researchers access to a massive Hadoop cluster on which to run their data-intensive projects.
The project kicked off in 2007 via a partnership with a handful of major universities as a way to introduce students and researchers to webscale computing, and broadened its scope to the entire scientific community by getting on board with the NSF’s Cluster Exploratory program in 2008. However, what was once novel has become fairly commonplace, so Google is ending the ACCI altogether.
Here’s what Google VP of Research Alfred Spector had to say on the Google Research blog:
Overall, 1,328 researchers have used the cluster to perform over 120 million computing tasks on the cluster and in the process, have published 49 scientific publications, educated thousands of students on parallel computing and supported numerous post-doctoral candidates in their academic careers. …
Three years later, there are many viable, affordable alternatives to the Academic Cloud Computing Initiative, so we have decided to bring our part of the program to a close. … It was state-of-the-art four years ago when it was started; now, Academic Cloud Computing is a worldwide phenomena and there are many low-cost cloud computing options that provide viable alternatives to the Academic Cloud Computing Initiative.
Presumably, he’s talking about the free hours offered to researchers by cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, as well as Yahoo’s program to give researchers access to its M45 Hadoop cluster. Yahoo is also involved with the Open Cirrus cloud testbed along with HP and Intel, and EMC Greenplum (e emc) recently announced its own 1,000-node Hadoop cluster to support the Apache community.
I’m somewhat sad to see the research cloud go, but given Google’s recent efforts to trim the fat by cutting non-profitable projects, it’s hard to say it’s a surprising result.
Image courtesy of Flickr user MrFaber.