Tuesday Jun 02, 2009

Europe's largest supercomputer

The Forshung Julich phase two super computer, now Europe's largest, had its formal opening session last week and Mark Hamiltion, Sun VP who leads our HPC team went to visit them, and recorded it on his blog, in a couple of articles dated as at the end of May, because it runs on Sun. He wrote three articles, several of them with lots of pictures.

This is Europe's largest super computer and runs on Sun's Constellation systems, Mark's article "Memorial Day in Germany" and the Forshung Julich web page, "Systems Configuration" talk about the technology, where they state, they have 2208 compute nodes, each with dual, Intel Xeon X5570 (Nehalem-EP) quad-core processors, running at 2.93 GHz. This has over 17500 cores with 207 Teraflops peak performance, hardly surprisingly they have also taken four of Sun's Data Centre Switches.

The EU's PRACE project funded the feasibility of this and I have been tracking it for a while since we knew that phase 2 was to be based on Sun's hardware. I have a link roll...

<script TYPE="text/javascript" SRC="http://feeds.delicious.com/v2/js/DaveLevy/julich?title=My%20Delicious%20Bookmarks&icon=s&count=7&sort=date&tags&extended"></script>

which records a bunch of pages about it and this page, the Juropa Supercomputer has a rather cool picture.

the JuRoPA Super Computer

which I have linked to, but shrunk to get on this page.


Thursday Feb 26, 2009

You can't keep the Spies out

While continuing to think about the privacy and regulatory issues that Cloud computing raises, I was point at this article in the NY Times, called "Does Cloud Computing Mean More Risks to Privacy?", which looks at the US legal position and points out that the US police and even civil investigators will find it easier to get data from third parties than from the entities orginally authorised to have access to private data. The article seems to have been categorised as news due to the release of the World Privacy Forum's latest report, "Privacy in the Clouds", which I have not yet read, but plan to.

Its probably true in the EU, and is certainly so in the UK, that a number of IT service providers have national security duties that are not well publicised and growing, but it seems that the basic principle of EU law is that data mustn't be shipped to countries with weaker laws than the originator country, although on the internet, how does one know which that is.


Sunday Feb 22, 2009

For more about Privacy in Europe

So what was I looking for? I found and was pointed to by a lazyweb search at,

and now I have these three links collected in a single HTML page with a permalink, i.e here. The delicious links are tagged EU, but I might add a gov tag to the tag base as this seems sensible for this case.


Monday Dec 01, 2008

Learnings from Lyon at ICT2008

I have spent this morning looking at the leaflets and notes I took at ICT 2008 in Lyon last week. I have bookmarked many of them at delicious with the "myict2008" tag. These cover mainly grids, distributed computing and knowledge management, there are a couple of consultancy sites as well.

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://feeds.delicious.com/v2/js/DaveLevy/myict2008?title=my%20bookmarks%20from%20ICT%202008&icon=s&count=20&bullet=%C2%BB&sort=date&tags&extended"></script>

I hope you'll find them useful. I have posted them here, using their link roll gadget since you can't enter del.icio.us on a date and this blog entry has both a date URL and a permalink. The lack of a date query is probably one of the reasons that people post links to their blogs. This is the first time I have done it, although the linkroll is in my sidebar on this page and on my archive page.

I hope to write up my notes in a more narrative form, which I'll back date to last week, which is when the conference took place.


Tuesday Nov 25, 2008

Managing Torrow's Cloud

An off agenda session on Cloud Computing, kicked off by William Fellows of the 451 Group. I quite like his stacks both of functionality, illustrating what needs to be done and the evolution of the cloud from its partly failed predecessors. The discussion then moved to management, with contributions from IRMOS and the Autonomic Internet project, which sounds a bit IBM'ish but isn't. There's obviously some thinking going on about Service Management for Clouds and networks, looking at life cycle issues (is this just job management, probably not because of birth and death), self functioning, SLAs and QoS issues. It seems to me that Robert Holt's experimentation with SMF is exactly the right thing to do. The features that Sun's Systems Management Facilty add to the operating system are a foundation on which a number of features can be built which meet the need of Cloud managers. The BREIN project which says about itself,

"BREIN takes the e-business concept developed in recent Grid research projects, namely the concept of so-called "dynamic virtual organisations" towards a more business-centric model, by enhancing the system with methods from artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, semantic web etc."

I love the etc. It always makes you think people know exactly what they're doing. They have published a white paper here.... Despite this, these projects and this approach might well enable the automated SLA negociation. Can we create a semweb for SLAs? It always been the fact that sustaining and management science comes after the invention stage, but this was a jolly interesting session, and addressing issues identified by both myself and colleagues at Sun and leading industry commentators as crucial. If we don't/can't automate this stuff, we are going to run out of people.


Can Europe keep up?

I then attended a panel discussion on R&D in Europe, which given the attendees was pretty self congratulatory. HP's VP for Labs is a Brit, and was on the panel. The reason I mention this is that he was the only employee of a global IT company i.e. one not quoted in Europe, who spoke in a plenary session. They sort of said "Great Research, no IT manufacturing" , but why? We do have ICT manufacturers in Telco, including Alcatel, Ericsson, Nokia and Seimens.

Can the European NEP's maintain their leadership? What does Europe's computing hardware poverty mean? Can it compensate with a single market, a vibrant software industry and a well educated work force?

It was also shown that not all these advantages are enough. SAP does very little development in Europe these days, and it was said that innovation rate in Europe is too low, despite a world leading position in many areas.


Monday Nov 24, 2008

Visions of Future Computing

After lunch, with wine, it is in France after all, I attended a session called "Visions of Future Computing and Communication Paradigms". Frustratingly this was not video'd and nor can I find the slides on the USB stick they gave us. So you'll have to rely on my memory; I didn't take any notes. The first two speakers, although their presentations weren't designed to show the difference between IT people and computer scientists. Prof. John McCaskill, of BioMIP, the Biomolecular Information Processing Research Group presented on 'Constructive IT', which as far as I can tell starts from chemistry and is looking at new ways of building computers...beyond Silicon. I have to ask what sort of timescales they expect to do anything substantial. The need to change programming models because of large scale multi-threading is one thing, the abolition of silicon is quite another. This stuff just amazed me. He was followed by Micheal Wolf, who illustrated the insights that quantum physics offer to mainly software design. He was followed by Illka Tuomi also at Wikipedia, who presented on "Intellectual Property Processing After the End of Semiconductor Scaling", and his slides are available on his personal web page at meaningprocessing.com. He illustrates some interesting changes in system design after the end of Semiconductor scaling. The session was brought to end by Wendy Hall, who illustrated the holistic nature of ICT futures arguing for a 'Web Science' approach borrowing from many separate disciplines to build an understanding of the technical and social networks that are being built today.


ICT 2008, Lyon

I got into the conference in time to hear the words of welcome from the Mayor of Lyon, and the opening panel discussion. The panel was chaired by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, and its participants were Luc Chatel, Secrétaire d'Etat chargé de l'Industrie et de la Consommation, France, Esko Aho, Executive Vice President, Nokia Corporation, and Former President of the Finnish Innovation Fund (SITRA), former Prime Minister of Finland and one of the key commentators on FP6, he chaired the group that produced "Information Society Research and Innovation: Delivering results with sustained impact", which was published in September. Also on the panel were Ben Verwaayen, CEO, Alcatel-Lucent, previously of BT, Harold Goddijn, CEO, TomTom and Michel Cosnard, CEO and Chairman, INRIA, representing a research view. The conference has a video link on its site for this session. The panel was called "Setting the ICT Agenda for the Next Decade" , has its own page. The panelists said little of controversy, with Verwaayen arguing that trust and security were keys with Aho arguing for a global dimension, starting from a green perspective to invest in productive knowledge. He also interestingly argued that US leadership was based on entrepreneurialism and commercial innovation. I was surprised, I am not yet convinced that european basic science research is yet competitive with the US. For instance, while researching NESSI's contribution to the EU's Software Industrial policy, I was pointed at China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University's study of Academic Ranking of World Universities. I, and others, have considered the methodology and anomalies, but it illustrates a world domination of scientific excellence in the universities by the USA. However Goddijn, who was there to tell the startup story, stated that his biggest problems in building Tom Tom were not technological, but regulatory compliance, specifically, VAT and patent registration. These comments got a round of applause, and Verwaayen weighed in specifically asking when it might become possible to register patents in the EU in one language. There were further discussions on the public policy dimensions of how innovation enters the economy, discussing public/private partnerships, educational/innovation clusters with much agreement about the short term changes in ICT.

In between the opening sessions and the panel discussion, some video's from Futuris were shown. This focused on the use of ICT in health care delivery. I have argued previously that the UK's investment in i-health care has been too focused on record keepting and NHS cost control, so it was good to see a couple of case studies showing the innovative use technology in improving the ill and injured's lives. I can't find the specific video on the Futuris site, but Futuris is an EU sponsored TV show broadcast on the Euronews channel. Leave me a comment if you find it.


Thursday Aug 28, 2008

More in Budapest

I walked down the hill from the castle heights, towards the Magrit Hid. There's a number of small alleys with steps as its quite steep. The views from the heights are quite dramatic as central Budapest is quite low and the old, i.e. very old, 'buildings of power' dominate the skyline. You can see the Parliament building(?) in the background here.

Coming down from the Castle

They are not as good as "Simon Phipp's pictures.


Monday Aug 25, 2008


Just arrived in Budapest. I am hear to attend a training event. This is for Sun's EMEA, Governement, Education and Healthcare team. My work on NESSI has opened my eyes to the tremendous innovation occuring in parts of these sectors, so I am really looking forward to it.


Thursday Aug 07, 2008

Reading Danilo Poccia's italian language blog

Danilo Poccia has been experimenting with allowing his readers to use Google translate to read his blog. I, at least, will find this useful as Danilo writes in italian. This could of course be an advantage as the 'to english' translators may be stronger, since it looks quite good to me. It also enhances his hit count; its only available via the HTML interface. :)  He categorises the blog, so finding his professional content is quite easy.


Wednesday Apr 02, 2008

workshoping the future

Over the last two day, we have been in workshops, discussing aspects of the development of the internet. The workshops, their agenda and supporting papers are all hosted at the future internet site. We'll have to wait for the slides to see what agreement was discovered.

I was interested to attend BO6, "Future Internet Research and Experimentation", otherwise known as FIRE where I heard a number of presentations from FP6 funded projects talking about the Grids they'd built, primarily on University sites. There's a lot going on. It's a shame we couldn't find someone to take on Sun's London "grid-for-rent". There was some innovative stuff in the re-provisioning solution.

The other working groups were called Networks, Services, Content and Security. I am eagerly waiting the slides from the plenary sessions that introduced and concluded these workshops.


Tuesday Apr 01, 2008

the church on the island

Lake Bled has been one of Slovenia's holiday attractions for many years, famously it has an island in the middle of the lake, with a church on it.


The Church on the Island


Other pictures are at my slovenia set, part of my photo collection at flickr.


Monday Mar 31, 2008

The Bled Declaration

We closed the day by adopted the Bled declaration, calling on the Commission and member states co-ordinate their R&D and do other good things, including the support in the construction of a "Future Internet Assembly".

tags: ""

What changes in technology will do to the Internet tomorrow

The afternoon panel was billed, in contrast to the morning's emphasis on society and economics, as about the technology. The session was opened by Lutz Heuser, of SAP, who had an interesting slide about the nature of innovation and a layered architecture model of the internet, which is pretty common place in these meetings, layering business services over common services over a platform, which itself has computers, switches and interconnects. He did ask where the european business services were? Thus ignoring plazes, last.fm and bebo, and if I new the non-UK economies better, I bet I could name some more of these SaaS Web 2.0 startups from Europe.

Christian Grégoire, of Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent spoke of the need to re-invest in the network's intelligence and that vertical industries adoption of remote sensor technology will change the applications portfolios, the bandwidth demands and backbone topology. A number of speakers seem to equate the internet of things with RFID, I wonder if the argument that they lack intelligence and programability has been considered and dismissed, or just not engaged with.

Jan Uddenfeldt a senior advisor to the CEO of Ericsson spoke, surprise surprise, about how mobile phones will drive change. I am not sure on two counts. Phones while very portable, have CPUs, RAM, storage, a screen, a keyboard and a network interface. This makes them computers, and if you have a consumer Sony Ericsson, its a pretty poor screen and keyboard. The volume and rate of adoption does make a difference, but the "internet of things" is a step beyond connecting people.

Krishna Nathan Vice President of Storage System Development at IBM. An interesting and thoughtful speech about how the "internet of things" will drive the evolution of an event driven network; sensors will require real time management. He explored the use of sensors to manage the data centre? They made quite a lot of noise about it earlier this month [ IBM Press Release ]. I was quite annoyed about this; I had planned suggest Sun did something about this leveraging Wonderland and Darkstar. (See also MMORPGs, making them massive, at this site.) However, it may not be too late. It interests me that no one is really talking about the nature of the services that the internet will need to provide for these new models. He was explained well the changing nature of traffic patterns that will occur as sensors become pervasive. His slides are also worth a second read.

Jean-Charles Hourcade of Thomson SA, spoke from the perspective of a content company and his speech shows why we need to consider change from different perspectives. He argues that the devices of the future are the pc, gateway and phone. (I don't think so). He argued that HDTV and Cinema Technology will raise the bar again. This is probably true, but to me what's popularising video is youtube, and the reducing of video's length. They've become snacks. A countervailing force in the UK is the BBC's iplayer and BT Vision. Maybe the UK has some more serious legacy inhibitors to change. Both the commercial structure, where content providers own their own network and the business is dominated by de-facto or de-nationalised monopolies, and the age of the local loop. I wonder how easy the rest of Europe will find it to move forward.

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