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Interview Markus Schmidberger ,Cloudnumbers.com

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R in the Cloud

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Here is an interview with Markus Schmidberger, Senior Community Manager for cloudnumbers.com. Cloudnumbers.com is the exciting new cloud startup for scientific computing. It basically enables transition to a R and other platforms in the cloud and makes it very easy and secure from the traditional desktop/server model of operation.

Ajay- Describe the startup story for setting up Cloudnumbers.com

Markus- In 2010 the company founders Erik Muttersbach (TU München), Markus Fensterer (TU München) and Moritz v. Petersdorff-Campen (WHU Vallendar) started with the development of the cloud computing environment. The founder team features an exceptional mix of talents with two IT specialists and one graduate in business administration with relevant Internet startup experience. cloudnumbers.com is designed as an on-demand provider for fully scalable high-performance calculation resources in the Cloud. We offer our clients the possibility to use the powerful open-source software that they are used to for resource-intensive calculations without the usual problem of a tie-up of local resources. In taking the calculation to the Cloud, we keep our client’s resources free for other tasks and are able to reduce calculation time significantly by the use of scalable clusters, as well as enabling the fast   exchange of data sets and results within the Cloud.

In the first months of 2011, the founders worked on the business plan and a prototype implementation, and obtained venture capital. On May 2011 the company base changed from Munich (Germany) to Berlin (Germany) and the project began to take shape. After a successful beta test phase with the application R on small computer clusters in the Cloud in May and June 2011, the cloudnumbers.com’s platform went live on 4th July 2011.

Users are now able to create their own workspaces (hard-drives in the Cloud), configure their own computer cluster and access the computer cluster via the web-interface or an external terminal. Overall, a stable platform with all key features for HPC in the Cloud is implemented. With over 1000 registrations in less than 4 month the demand for the service being provided became clear.

Ajay- What advantages does cloudnumbers.com give me over a plain vanilla Amazon EC2 instance.

Markus- If you have the time and knowledge you can set up a computer cluster with Amazon EC2 similar to cloudnumbers.com, too. At Cloudnumbers.com you get everything pre-installed and pre-configured.Everything works out of the box, you will need no more administration and you have not to deal with any security keys.

Furthermore, we provide a very powerful and user friendly webinterface for starting, working, monitoring, … the computer cluster in the Cloud. The Security is our top priority.We meet high security standards by providing secure encryption for data transmission and storage. In the default configuration you will not get this level of security at Amazon Web services.

Ajay- I see you have chosen R Studio as a R development platform for cloud computing as well. Can you describe what other choices you looked into and why cloudnumbers.com chose RStudio ahead of others.

Markus- If you are following the R community and the R specific user conferences you will detect a very strong RStudio hype. RStudio is a great development environment for R and combines many useful tools in one GUI. Due to the identical client and web-based environment we decided to integrate RStudio into cloudnumbers.com as one example programming environment. As requested by our clients we can install any other environment, too.  Based on the computer cluster infrastructure of our platform you can connect Eclipse (StatER plugin) or TinnR with Cloudnumbers.com, too.

Ajay-  What are the incentives that Universities and Govt give to tech startups in Germany /Euro Zone. How is the venture capital scene there compared to Silicon Valley.

Markus- Cloudnumbers.com is very happy to have Michael Brehm (StudiVZ) and Stephan Schubert (OnVista) as business angels. Due to several programs you can get a lot of incentives from universities and government in the start-up phase of a company. Especially, in the decision process and in the process of writing a business plan there is sufficient support. For example, there a special courses at the universities and at most universities you can get some hour of management consultant for free. Furthermore, Berlin – Germany’s capital city – is the heart for IT start-up in Germany. A survey in 2010 proved, that it is easier to find programmers in Berlin than in Silicon Valley and the living costs are lower than in California. Overall, we are very happy to be a German start-up located in Berlin.

Ajay- What are the exciting new features that you plan to roll out for cloudnumbers.com ?

Markus- Cloudnumbers.com now provides a stable and efficient service for high-performance computing in the Cloud. Our main feature are the pre-installed computer clusters in the Cloud with pre-installed applications.

Currently, we provide our customers with R, openFoam, Python, Fortran and C / C++. Due to our very wide target audience we have to install several additional applications. In the next weeks we are going to release BLAST, Freemat, Perl and several more applications especially for the Life Science sector.

Next to the applications, Cloudnumbers.com provides an HPC service. Today, HPC is more than only computer clusters with pre-installed applications.

In the long run we are planing to improve our platform for big data analyses and GPU computing. For now we are happy to meet the requirements of our customers and to get their applications running. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or feature requests concerning Cloudnumbers.com

Biography-  Dr. rer. nat. Markus Schmidberger is working as Senior Communigy Manager for cloudnumbers.com. He did his PhD at the University of Munich in “Parallel Computing for Biological Data”. His main research focus is on high performance computing with the R (r-project.org) language. His work and publications have a strong influence to the R, computational statistic and computational biology community.

 

 


1 Comment

  1. Markus Schmidberger says:

    thanks for the great interview. I forgot our most exciting new feature. So far everything was based on interactive sessions. These days we are launching Batch Processing including automatic cluster shutdown as soon as the job is done, email notification, log files, …

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