Tag: University of Texas at San Antonio

Rackspace and Intel Open the OpenStack Innovation Center

Rackspace, Intel and UTSA officials and UTSA interns at the opening of the OpenStack Innovation Center at Rackspace's headquarters.

Rackspace, Intel and UTSA officials and UTSA interns at the opening of the OpenStack Innovation Center at Rackspace’s headquarters.

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Officials with Rackspace and Intel Thursday officially cut the ribbon on the OpenStack Innovation Center at Rackspace’s headquarters.

“We are going to make this the launching pad to make OpenStack and the entire cloud available to everyone in the industry,” said Imad Sousou, vice president of the software and services group and general manager of Intel Open Source Technology Center.

“And, yes, we’re hiring,” Sousou said.

Rackspace and Intel officially announced their partnership for the OpenStack Innovation Center in late July. On Thursday, a few hundred people gathered in front of the new center at Rackspace’s headquarters in San Antonio to cut the ribbon on the facility where they will be working.

Rackspace has more than 200 employees working on OpenStack every day and they will occupy the OpenStack Innovation Center, which is in the fourth phase of development at the old Windsor Park Mall, which Rackspace refurbished into its headquarters, which Rackspace employees call “The Castle.”

In addition to the Rackspace employees, Intel will have developers at the center. Already, eight Intel developers have moved to San Antonio from Santa Clara, California, Arizona, Dallas and other Intel locations around the country to work here.

IMG_6515The OpenStack Innovation Center will add even more technology talent to San Antonio, said Darrin Hanson, vice president and general manager of Rackspace Private Cloud. And Rackspace’s partner in providing the tech pipeline of new talent locally is the University of Texas at San Antonio, he said.

Already, UTSA selected ten students to work as interns initially at the center and 30 more will be joining the program in the next year, said Mauli Agrawal, vice president of research at UTSA.

“By opening this innovation center, we’re creating the largest OpenStack development team in the world,” Agrawal said.

UTSA has developed a reputation nationwide as experts training computer and software engineers in open cloud computing and cybersecurity, Agrawal said. And this center further solidifies that reputation, he said.

“We are Cyber City and Cloud City USA,” Agrawal said.

The center will do research and development on OpenStack, which is an operating system that runs on the cloud and enables all kinds of software applications to run quickly and seamlessly from online banking to e-commerce. The cloud is a term used to described computer servers linked together in data centers that contain information accessible to anyone, anywhere through the Internet.

Intel has invested in the OpenStack project, which it calls “Intel’s Open Cloud for All” initiative although financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. It is also putting engineering resources behind the initiative. The New York Times recently did a story on Intel’s strategy to invest heavily in software that enhances cloud-computing capabilities. The idea is to create many competitors who offer cloud computing services, which ultimately creates many customers who demand servers that run Intel’s chips, and that way Intel will not get squeezed in price margins for its products by just a few giant companies, according to the article.

In July of 2010, Rackspace developed and launched OpenStack in cooperation with NASA. In the five years since then, OpenStack has grown considerably in popularity and other companies have exerted their influence on the software. HP, IBM and other big firms came in and contributed to the project. And the software got bogged down in bureaucracy and fragmentation as many companies contributed to it, Hanson with Rackspace said. This new initiative is about accelerating OpenStack development and adoption, Hanson said.

“We’re trying to create an environment where people are fully committed to improving OpenStack and doing it in a fully opened source way,” Hanson said.

“OpenStack is becoming the de facto cloud operating system for enterprises,” Hanson said. Enterprise is the name for large companies.

Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud are closed and proprietary platforms that compete with OpenStack, an open source alternatives to those services.

Intel and Rackspace’s collaboration seeks to make OpenStack the best operating system for the public and private cloud, Hanson said.

“For companies, the promise of OpenStack is that it gives them a platform that allows them to be much more efficient, much more nimble and it really improves speed to market for their customer facing and revenue generating applications,” Hanson said. “It gives them a really flexible and efficient platform where the IT department can go from being a call center to a center of strategy and to an enabler of revenue.”

The Open Cloud Institute Launches at UTSA

ociThe University of Texas at San Antonio on Thursday announced the creation of the Open Cloud Institute with $9 million in backing.

The Open Cloud Institute will focus on creating degree programs in cloud computing and big data. It will also work closely with companies in the cloud computing industry.

The 80/20 Foundation has pledged “$4.8 million to support four endowed professorships, up to two faculty research positions, 10 graduate student endowments and research funding,” according to a news release.

UTSA also received in-kind donations from Rackspace, AMD, Intel, Mellanox Technologies and Seagate. The university also received support from the Open Computer Project and OpenStack Foundation.

“By recruiting the nation’s most sought-after scholars, UTSA has developed tremendous expertise in cloud, cyber, computing and analytics. The Open Cloud Institute further builds on that strength,” UTSA President Ricardo Romo said in a news release.

“As adoption of cloud computing accelerates, the next industry that will get to harness this powerful and complex resource is academia. This will allow for increased innovation in scientific research and help to solve some of society’s grand challenges,” Graham Weston, chairman at 80/20 Foundation and Rackspace, said in a news release. “UTSA is emerging as a global leader in academic research built upon open technologies. The Open Cloud Institute will enhance UTSA’s capabilities, while boosting the supply of cloud engineers that all of our businesses need in order to power the technology companies of the future.”

Making Data Centers Smarter and Greener

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Facebook data center, photo courtesy of Facebook

Facebook data center, photo courtesy of Facebook

Facebook has saved $1.3 billion in the last three years by making its data centers more energy efficient.

That’s enough energy to power 40,000 houses a year and saves on carbon emissions the equivalent of taking 50,000 cars off the road, said Charlie Manese, vice president of channel development for Facebook’s Open Compute Project and infrastructure.

Facebook’s data centers run on alternative energy including hydrodynamic and wind power.

The company has focused on making its data centers faster, leaner and better since it broke ground four years on its first “green” data center project in Prineville, Oregon.

Manese spoke Thursday morning on the last day of the two-day Open BigCloud Symposium focused on cloud computing and big data. The conference, held at the University of Texas at San Antonio, attracted about 200 people and featured presentations from Rackspace, Facebook, Gartner, Internet2, Dell, University of Texas Advanced Computer Center and others.

The Open Compute Project started at Facebook in 2011. A big focus of the Open Compute Project is to share best practices with software, hardware, networks and data center designs to increase efficiency and cut down on energy consumption.

“There’s a lot more data being created these days than ever before,” said Attilia Finta with Dell. His presentation focused on infrastructure cooling technology used in the data centers to keep the servers from overheating.

Ron Mann, a senior director of data center infrastructure with Hewlett-Packard showed off the container-sized data centers that HP can put in tight spaces and even on rooftops. Some of the data center containers have even been painted to look like mobile homes.

The efficient data centers are greatly needed because the world is awash in data, and the amount of data created has greatly accelerated in the last few years, said Frank Frankovsky, chairman of the Open Compute Project Foundation. It has grown from .8 zettabytes (one zettabyte equals 1 billion terabytes) of data in 2010 to 2.8 zettabytes in 2012. And it’s expected to hit 40 zettabytes in 2020, he said.

UTSA Hosts the Open BigCloud Symposium

Founder of Silicon Hills News

BnC9n-kCYAA9gdwSome of the biggest trends in technology today are the cloud, a fancy name for data centers, and big data, the massive bits and bytes of information flowing through those data centers.

At the University of Texas at San Antonio, more than 100 people met Wednesday to discuss hardware, software and networks around those topics at the first Open BigCloud Symposium.

“This is about the future of cloud computing and big data,” said UTSA President Ricardo Romo.

He compared the ideas and innovation around the Open Cloud environment to Detroit during its heyday of the automotive industry.

“A collision of ideas that’s what’s going to happen here,” he said.

Romo also cut the ribbon to officially open the UTSA Open Compute Project Certification and Solutions Laboratory. The only other lab of its kind is in Taiwan.

Frank Frankovsky, president and chairman of the Open Compute Project Foundation, praised the project.

“There are incredibly innovative people in the state of Texas driving the industry forward,” he said.

The two-day Open BigCloud Symposium features more than 20 speakers in the HEB University Center Ballroom at the UTSA main campus. Most of it is highly technical with sessions like “Using ZeroVM and Swift to Build a Compute Enabled Storage Platforms” and “Composable Rack Scale Archecture Storage.” But some of the sessions address universal issues facing the technology industry like the shortage of women in technology and fostering entrepreneurship.

In 2012, Rackspace hosted the Open Compute Summit and hosted more than 500 people involved in the Open Compute Project, which Frankovsky and his team launched at Facebook in 2011. The project’s goal focuses on creating the most efficient computer hardware and software for data center. Major players like Facebook, Rackspace, Hewlett Packard, Dell and Microsoft back the project.

The Open Compute Project is driven by collaboration, contributions and consumption or the adoption of the technology by industry, Frankovsky said.

UTSA is becoming a nationally recognized hub of innovation in the Cloud and big data technology, said Lorenzo Gomez, director of the 80/20 Foundation and Geekdom.

The 80/20 Foundation has donated more than $4 million in endowed partnerships in cloud computing technology to UTSA, Gomez said.

The research, the academia and industry coming together at UTSA is extremely important said John Engates, Rackspace’s Chief Technology Officer.

“We at Rackspace believe open is supercritical,” Engates said.

Open and collaborative environments help companies innovate faster, Engates said. It also means freedom. It also allows people to do their work remotely easily, he said. An open environment also allows companies to share the risks and rewards of research and development and innovation, he said.

“Getting people on a bobsled together and going in together I think that’s supercritical,” he said.

In 2010, Rackspace and NASA jointly created the OpenStack , an open source cloud software. Today, Rackspace runs the largest OpenStack cloud in the world today, Engates said.

UTSA Holds Biannual Entrepreneur Boot Camp

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon, co-founders of Rackspace, speaking at an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Dirk Elmendorf and Pat Condon, co-founders of Rackspace, speaking at an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

To launch a business in college, students must master all kinds of skills.
They might have to make a business plan, find funding, do market research, sell products or services, stay on top of legal issues and intellectual property rights and sometimes figure out manufacturing.
This weekend, 150 University of Texas at San Antonio students got an edge on their competition. They covered these topics in less than eight hours in UTSA’s CITE Technology Entrepreneur Boot Camp. The camp featured ten speakers, including Rackspace Hosting co-founders Pat Condon and Dirk Elmendorf.
“Follow your own path. Don’t follow conventional wisdom necessarily,” Condon said. “Some of the conventional wisdom that we did follow that we shouldn’t of was: don’t serve your customers because you can’t make money doing it. Our history is littered with doing things because a lot of other people were doing it. It doesn’t necessarily mean you should be doing it that way too.”
Condon and Elmendorf discussed the triumphs and pitfalls of their experiences, speaking at length about a time when Rackspace’s customer support was more abysmal than fanatical. They encouraged the students to push forward with their ideas even if they didn’t feel qualified or smart enough to see them through.
“When you read hacker news, Techcrunch, all that stuff — it always feels like the founders are these anointed geniuses that are passed down from – well, there is founder worship,” Elmendorf said. “Because we give this presentation inside Rackspace, I never want someone who is joining to think it was founded by geniuses and they couldn’t contribute. We were idiots! We got lucky and we worked hard. If you can stick it out and do all those things you can make it.”
Other presenters included YUMIX founder Alex Garner, Jackson Walker Attorney William R. Borchers, and It’s 2Cool Ltd. CEO Deb Prost.
“I hope that I can inspire some of these folks to really take that nugget of an idea that they have and do all the blood, sweat, and tears that you have to do to get to where you really can market a product,” Prost said.
Held biannually, the CITE boot camp is open to students and faculty members and is designed to both inform and encourage students towards a life of entrepreneurship. The students came from a wide variety of situations. Some were getting ready to enter the $100,000 Student Technology Venture Competition with a team and a product. Others were part of the student CEO organization, part of the Certificate of Technology Entrepreneurial Management program, or simply entrepreneurship-minded students hoping to develop their skills.
“We’re taught in our program that whenever you have the opportunity to sit down and talk to people in the tech space that are from a different perspective, it’s always a good idea,” Business Senior Somer Baburek said.
Baburek is currently in the Business College’s entrepreneurship program and is preparing to enter the $100,000 competition with a medical device that wirelessly monitors fetal heart rates in labor and delivery. She attended the event to gain business knowledge and look for additional engineers for her team.
Engineering Senior Davis Richardson is also preparing for the competition, and attended to get better acquainted with the business side of startups. Richardson will be entering the competition with a device that trains students to design hydraulic systems.
“This is a really interesting opportunity because in the engineering college we spend all of our time looking at how to develop products internally,” Richardson said. “It’s not until here, or in electives, that we really get much insight into how this works outside the design process.”
Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan at the UTSA Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan at the UTSA Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

Ph.D. Biomedical engineering students Ramon Coronado and Tony Yuan also attended the boot camp to buff their business skills. The two students are in UTSA’s Certificate of Technology Entrepreneurial Management program – an optional track designed to give Ph.D. students extra entrepreneurial training so they can launch their own businesses. Coronado and Yuan are currently preparing to launch Mobile Stem Care – which will help veterinarians take advantage of stem cell advancements.
“We have a lot of science in academia but no one around the department can teach us about business,” Coronado said. “Before this course we didn’t have the chance to see how to translate the technology [to market].”
The event also attracted younger students as well. Sophomore David Barrick is not involved in a competition or an entrepreneurship class, but he does have a few ideas for a tech company and attended to learn more about obtaining patents and talking to investors for seed funding.
“I saw this conference on a Tweet in Twitter for UTSA. I have been thinking of starting a tech company, so I saw this and said, ‘yea, this is for me’” said Barrick.
As of this weekend, 1,300 students have now gone through the CITE Technology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp at UTSA. CITE, short for Center of Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship, is an interdisciplinary center for the colleges of engineering and business directed by Cory Hallam and Anita Leffel. While the boot camp is an achievement for the university, Hallam also sees the event as an essential part of an effort to grow the startup community, and the local economy, of San Antonio.
“We have to feed the pipeline of entrepreneurship in San Antonio, and these are students who will found companies now, found companies later, participate in three day startups, go be part of Geekdom,” Hallam said. “It’s great to be a contributor for San Antonio in that pipeline.”

Two San Antonio Researchers Get Seed Funding

Two San Antonio researchers have received $200,000 in seed stage funding to study new methods to optimize drug release.
Kelly Nash, assistant in the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr. Benjamin Furman, a research engineering in Southwest Research Institute’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division will use the funding to study “Photoresponsive Polymeric Composites Utilizing UV-Light Harvesting from Upconverting Nanoplatelets.”
Their project will focus on hydrogels for applications in drug release.
This is the third project to be funded under Connect, a collaborative program fostering research between Southwest Research Institute and UTSA.
“Drs. Nash and Furman’s Connect proposal will have tremendous value not only to industry and the university but to the nation,” Jim Massaro, assistant vice president for Research Development said in a news release.

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