Partner Interview: Umeå University

We wanted to know how the project partners view current challenges and opportunities in cloud storage and how VISION Cloud addresses these issues.

This time, we talked to Umeå University, the largest and oldest university in northern Sweden with over 27,000 students.




Q1. What are the benefits of cloud storage?


The benefits of cloud storage arise with the advanced functionalities that can be realized once the data is moved to the cloud. Buying raw capacity could be very expensive in particular when the cost of moving the data into the cloud is included. Using storage clouds increases the accessibility as data can be synchronized and can be consistently accessed from multiple applications and devices. This also benefits collaborative environments in which it is easier to share data with others. Cloud storage also decreases the risk of losing data which is beneficial for large and small scale users. 


Q2. What are the main missing parts in todays‘ cloud computing landscape (and cloud storage in particular)?

  1. With regard to cloud computing in general, the behavior of many applications once migrated to cloud resources is still unknown. For many applications configurations that are optimal when running in private resources result in very bad behavior once they are moved to public resources. In most cases the problem resides at the system level in the way in which public resources are managed (e.g., context switches, network buffers, and performance isolation among virtual machines). More research in this area is needed in order to address these systems issues.
  2. With regard to storage the main problem of current cloud offerings is how expensive it is to move data into a cloud. Once the data is in a cloud it is cheap to operate on it, but uploading the data is costly both in time and economic terms. This can be easily observed in all current offerings that require a high premium for uploading data. Thus, innovative approaches that  consider networking integrated with computation and storage are needed.
  3. Another need in todays clouds is privacy for end-user's data. It is important that end-user should have ultimate control of their data, how it is used and who has access to it.

Q3. What are your plans for year two in VISION Cloud?


VISION cloud allows us to work in a realistic distributed environment. Working on this type of environment creates a lot of problems for managing resources efficiently. At the very least it requires that the management solutions consider the distributed nature of the system at the core, assuming centralized control is not an option so even the management solution must be distributed. During the second year of the project we will continue our efforts in providing distributed resource management. Specifically we will work on distributed resource usage accounting and placement of storlets. We will also focus on improving our tools and algorithms in order to build a system resilient to failures.


When working in advanced infrastructures like VISION cloud it is often too easy to include all sorts of optimizations at the infrastructure level that are better left for applications to do. In the current state of cloud research we see an enormous opportunity in investigating what optimizations are better left for applications to perform as opposed to trying to do them at the infrastructure level.


Partner Interviews:





Further Links:

VISION Cloud Fact Sheet

VISION Cloud Use Cases

VISION Cloud Project Partners

Linda Rath-Wiggins