Cloud Computing Project Wins First-of-its-Kind Google Award

Mar. 4, 2013

Dr. Lawrence Chung

Dr. Lawrence Chung, an expert in software requirements engineering, leads a team that won a first-of-its-kind research award from Google.

Dr. Lawrence Chung, associate professor of computer science at UT Dallas, could not predict with 100 percent certainty that his cloud computing project would be recipient of a-first-of-its-kind award from Google, but he kept his hopes high.

“Our research at UT Dallas is world-class,” he said. “We do cutting-edge research.”

Indeed, his SilverLining team of researchers and students from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science was one of seven worldwide recipients of the first-ever Google App Engine Research Award for innovative academic and scientific research expected to benefit society.

“We are proud of this achievement by Dr. Chung’s team,” said Dr. Gopal Gupta, head of the Department of Computer Science and holder of the Erik Jonsson Chair. “Dr. Chung is a leading expert in software requirements engineering, and most able to determine if technologies such as cloud computing can meet the requirements being imposed on them.”

The Google App Engine Research Award will allow his SilverLining team to use Google cloud computing infrastructure to verify that their benchmarking and simulation project results are viable in the real world. The research started in 2010 with funding from a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) to determine whether the promises of cloud computing could be met.

Businesses, military and other government entities are increasingly turning to cloud services. By sharing computer software and hardware, these organizations hope to eliminate or significantly reduce the initial setup costs of their computing infrastructure, the price of software updates, technology replacement and onsite technical support.

“Dr. Chung is a leading expert in software requirements engineering, and most able to determine if technologies such as cloud computing can meet the requirements being imposed on them.”

Dr. Gopal Gupta,
head of the Department of Computer Science

“Companies currently spend lots of money establishing computer hardware and software that need to be upgraded or replaced every few years, as well as maintained by IT personnel,” Chung said. “This kind of system is not sustainable.”

Ordinary people are also increasingly turning to cloud services for other promised benefits, such as improved reliability and mobility. Some applications are online storage and sharing services such as Amazon S3, Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive and SkyDrive.

Key questions of company savings and quality of service when using cloud applications remain.

Testing the functional benefits of such systems can be time-consuming and costly – possibly requiring tens and even thousands of machines and software systems – so Chung and his team developed simulations that can be done on only one computer.

“We play with numbers and do not need the real software and machines,” he said. “Using this approach, we can see the behavior of the cloud very quickly and inexpensively.”

The SilverLining team has already run simulations and obtained results to complement benchmarks.

“We need some way to verify the results of the simulations, and that requires software and machines on a large scale to run experiments,” Chung said.

Mahesh Babu Rajasekar and Alan Anderson work in Dr. Lawrence Chungs requirements engineering lab.

Mahesh Babu Rajasekar and Alan Anderson work in Dr. Lawrence Chung's requirements engineering lab.

With access to Google’s infrastructure, the SilverLining team can now run experiments to verify the benchmark data they have obtained. This project would be among the first, if the not the first, forecasting for cloud computing using simulation and benchmarking together.

“Before we use the simulator further, we want to make sure that the results we obtain from simulators are going to be meaningful,” Chung said.

Chung’s expertise is in software systems, specifically requirements engineering (RE) – formulating the problems the intended stakeholders are faced with and determining the services a software system needs to provide a solution. One of the research papers he co-authored on RE is among the most cited in the field of software engineering. Another key member of the SilverLining team is a PhD candidate Tom Hill, a retired from EDS/HP fellow who serves as a mentor for Chung’s graduate students.

Other recipients of the Google App Engine Award are from the California Institute of Technology, University of Bristol, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Washington and Arizona State University. Each team receives $60,000 in Google App Engine credits. Project criteria included intellectual excellence, innovation and societal impact – the potential for advancement of knowledge and transformative concepts in their domain.


Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4183, lakisha.ladson@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.

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