Ayush Dusia and Yang Yang presented their work on containerized cloud environments at the IEEE Cluster 2015 conference.  

Ask Watson

IBM provides computer science students with projects in container technology


10:05 a.m., Oct. 8, 2015--There’s a container revolution underway, but it doesn’t have anything to do with organizing your closet. 

In the context of computing, “containers” have been proposed as an efficient alternative to virtual machines for running applications in the cloud. However, the technology is not yet well developed, and there are quality-of-service issues with containers.

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It was a day of triumph, cheers and collective relief as more than 160 students from 21 nations participated in the University of Delaware's Doctoral Hooding Convocation held Friday morning on The Green.

Michela Taufer wanted students in her Operating Systems (OS) class at the University of Delaware to explore some of these issues, but she knew that the topic was too new to be found in textbooks.

So she invited colleague Seelam Setharami from the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center to work with her on defining industry-relevant OS projects for her class. 

“IBM provided us with free access to their cloud infrastructure, and Seelam visited us to introduce the IBM infrastructure, define the projects, and assess the results,” says Taufer, the David and Beverly J.C. Mills Career Development Chair of Computer and Information Sciences

Setharami says he was “amazed at the innovative solutions that these students developed to solve some real-world problems. This method of ‘learning by doing’ enables them to internalize the basic concepts and equips them with the rapidly evolving skills necessary to succeed at IBM and at other technology companies.”

Three of the four class projects resulted in posters and short papers being submitted to IEEE Cluster 2015, which took place in Chicago in September. The students received funding from the National Science Foundation for their trip to the conference, and their work will appear in the proceedings. 

The work with IBM has also been compiled in a paper submitted to the IEEE International Conference on Cloud Engineering 2016, with the students, Taufer, and Setharami as co-authors.

“I was very excited to work with a collaborator in industry,” says doctoral student Stephen Herbein. “We were able to tackle real-world problems using cutting-edge technology and then validate our solutions using resources provided to us by IBM that we wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.”  

“I was also excited to work on an open source project like Docker,” he adds. “We were able to extend Docker and then push our changes up to Github [a web-based platform for collaborative software development] for the rest of the community to see and build off.”

Based on the success of last semester’s collaboration, Taufer is working with IBM this semester in another course, Big Data Analytics and HPC. 

“We are applying a similar format for the projects in this class, and I look forward to similar results,” she says. “Student research often leads to posters, presentations and papers, but it’s much less common for work done in the classroom to have that kind of scholarly impact.”

Article by Diane Kukich

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