IBM Launches OpenPower Developer Cloud

Service currently hosted in single Beijing data center, but expansion plans are in place

Michael Vizard

June 11, 2015

2 Min Read
IBM 2009 CeBIT
A young woman walks past the IBM logo at the 2009 CeBIT technology trade fair in Hanover, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

As part of an ongoing effort to build an ecosystem around OpenPower processors, IBM announced this week that it has launched a SuperVessel cloud service, through which developers can build applications hosted in a data center managed by IBM in Beijing.

Unfurled at the OpenPower Foundation Summit in Bejing, the SuperVessel cloud service provides developers with access to a series of web-based integrated development environments, through which they can build complex applications spanning high-end graphics to machine learning software.

Alan Lee, vice president of OpenPower innovation for IBM systems, says the goal is to make OpenPower processor technology more accessible to developers that would otherwise not have the access to the capital required to build and test such types of applications at scale before deploying them in a production environment. To help make it easier to provision SuperVessel resources IBM has thus far exposed 13 APIs for the cloud service. At present, that service runs the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, but Lee says support for other distributions of Linux will follow.

“SuperVessel gives developers access to servers,” says Lee. “We’re trying to accelerate OpenPower innovation and grow the ecosystem.”

The service not only provides access to OpenPower processors, developers are also exposed to field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and GPUs running in a private cloud managed using OpenStack cloud management software.

The SuperVessel service itself is divided into online "labs" focused on Big Data and Internet of Things applications, along with acceleration and virtualization on OpenPower processors themselves. Examples of projects underway include a ProteinGoggle project from Tongji University that examines protein sequences to better understand human health and a project to optimize the city of Chongqing subway system that is being led by Chongqing University.

The SuperVessel cloud service is currently hosted in a single data center managed in the research and development arm of IBM, which operates separately from IBM’s commercial SoftLayer cloud service. Eventually, IBM plans to extend the reach of SuperVessel to multiple data centers in other cities where IBM has strong ties to a local university.

As part of its effort to usurp Intel, it’s become apparent to IBM that getting the next generation of advanced applications being developed to run on OpenPower processors, which are now being developed by a consortium of vendors led by IBM. While the outcome of that effort may currently unknown, it’s clear that IBM is committed to providing as much access to its processor technologies to developers as the cloud will allow.

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