HP is opening a new research lab in Singapore Wednesday illustrating its continued investment in research and development and its view of the Asia Pacific region as one of its most promising areas of expansion.
Prith Banerjee, senior VP of research and director of HP Labs, said the new facility is part of HP's effort to translate findings in the lab more quickly into products in the marketplace.
The lab's director will be Chris Whitney, formerly HP's director of the Service Automation and Integration Lab in Palo Alto, Calif. Whitney is assembling his lab staff, Banerjee said in a Feb. 19 telecast. The lab will be located in the ultramodern Fusionopolis complex in Singapore.
Cloud computing is a key research initiative for HP and the Singapore facility will participate in cloud and collaborative computing research, Banerjee said. "Cloud is one of the eight pillars [of future computing] that we've identified," he said.
HP has already joined a partnership that launched the Open Cirrus project in Singapore last year to create a multi-data center, open source test bed for the advancement of cloud computing. Its partners include Intel, Yahoo, and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, he said.
Another project is the Alatum, the largest supplier of commercial grid services in Singapore, which HP built with SingTel, the Singapore telecommunications provider. Alatum offers computing infrastructure, storage, and software applications on a pay-per-use basis or software-as-a-service basis. Fifteen independent software companies are participating. The group has 70 customers, Banerjee said.
Automating IT operations is another key area of research, and Banerjee said the Singapore lab will work closely with its Automated Infrastructure Lab in Bristol, England, and its Service Automation and Integration Lab in Palo Alto, Calif. The three labs together will work on a private cloud software platform, Cirious, "HP's vision for creating an enterprise cloud software platform," Banerjee said.
Part of that research will focus on how to keep the hybrid cloud operations safe when operations are moving outside the protective perimeter of the enterprise firewall and into a public cloud and back again. "You have to allow computations across the cloud ... you need to keep attackers outside the enterprise," he noted.
The research on Cirious will also include how to keep the data center cool in energy efficient ways and how to hold down the overall consumption of energy by deriving power in a variety of ways from one site. "A very big part of the project's goal is to reduce the total cost of ownership by 75% and reduce the consumption of power resources by 25%," Banerjee continued. "We're taking a holistic view. We're looking to bring down the total cost of ownership."
In response to a question from InformationWeek, he said Cirious will be built on standard x86 servers with CPUs containing a total of 1,000 to 4,000 cores. Singapore lends itself to conducting research on more efficient data centers because it is a location that is hot and humid, with a premium on the cost of space, he added.
HP wants a worldwide distribution of its labs to take advantage of different talent centers around the globe. The Singapore facility is its third in Asia-Pacific and seventh globally. Use of different talent centers for the labs will promote greater cross fertilization of ideas and knowledge of collaboration, he predicted.
No estimate of the investment needed to open the lab was offered.
Singapore enjoyed a 15% annual growth rate in spending on R&D in the period between 1996 and 2007; the number of researchers there grew at a rate of the 11% per year for the same period, HP said. Its revenues from the Asia-Pacific region grew at a rate of 26% in its recently reported first fiscal quarter.