Google and IBM help students reach for the clouds

By Sterling Camden
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

 It’s always a challenge for colleges and universities to keep up with advancing technology.  Back when I was hiring people, I was often disappointed by the lack of exposure to current practice obtained by new graduates during the course of their matriculation.  Technology advances so rapidly that unless you get your degree from one of the schools that create the new stuff, you’ll probably be five to ten years behind the times when you graduate.

Now imagine that you’re hiring for a company that defines the leading edge, like Google.  How do you find graduates who can work with your technology, when your technology isn’t being taught anywhere?  Answer: push your tech out to the universities.

Google has teamed up with IBM to create large data centers for students at six universities to learn “cloud computing” — the type of computing that uses thousands of processors and huge data stores to drive sites like Google.com.

These data centers will use “an open-source version of Google’s data center software” — a most interesting arrangement.  Obviously, the kids can’t learn it if it’s closed, but Rich Miller asks how much of Google’s secret sauce will be given away in this version?  There would seem to be a dilemma between wanting the students to have as rich an understanding as possible of the technology, versus protecting Google’s trade secrets from competitors.  But perhaps Google understands that any given technological advantage is fleeting, and that continued dominance rests more on the people they cultivate than on the algorithms they protect.

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