UI gets $6 million for cloud-computing research

UI gets $6 million for cloud-computing research

The University of Illinois is getting $6 million from the U.S. Air Force to create a center that could revolutionize shared computer resources called "cloud computing."

The University Center of Excellence in Assured Cloud Computing was established Thursday by the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Urbana campus.

"We already had a team in place, but we didn't have the money until now," said lead investigator Roy Campbell, the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professor in the Department of Computer Science.

There will be no new building space, Campbell said. The Assured Cloud Computing Center will be housed in the University's Information Trust Institute.

Members of that institute will perform research, provide technical exchange and educate professionals and students in the secure cloud computing sciences.

Cloud computing was in the news this month after an outage in Amazon.com's shared network put corporations it serves in peril.

The Air Force announced a year ago that it was interested in finding a university to partner with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Va., and the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate in Rome, N.Y.

The UI effort will be reviewed every two years for at least six years, Campbell said.

Assured cloud computing deals with a mixture of secure networks such as military ones, called blue networks, working with gray networks, in private hands, or perhaps belonging to other nations, which are considered insecure, according to Campbell.

He said such sharing could and has been used for non-military efforts, such as a natural disaster in Pakistan last year.

"If the Air Force were trying to rescue people from a flood, they might want to stage lots of different activities: deploy food, search and rescue, find people cut off by the flood and model the next direction of the flood," he said.

The military would use its own digital and satellite communications, but may also need to tap into local networks for some data.

Campbell has been working on cloud computing for about three years, and digital security for 10 years.

The team will include faculty members Gul Agha, Masooda Bashir, Rakesh Bobba, Indranil Gupta, Ravi Iyer, Zbigniew Kalbarczyk, Jos Meseguer, David Nicol, and William H. Sanders, whose home departments include the Information Trust Institute, the Coordinated Science Laboratory, the Department of Computer Science, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.