Topic development for Research Projects
in Theses and Dissertations related to
Virtualization, and Cloud Computing
technologies: By Sourabh Kishore

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In the modern world, Information and
Communication Technologies are very closely
integrated to form total solutions for
businesses. Hence, many academic topics for
dissertation and thesis research projects can
comprise of problem areas addressing both
these technologies when investigated in the
context of corporate business solutions,
solutions for government organisations and
public infrastructure services. Some of the
solutions in IT are widely debated because
they are being claimed to be the future of
computing infrastructures for IT enabled
businesses. I have come across numerous white
papers that attempt to establish the feasibility
of these technology solutions. These white
papers, mostly sponsored by original
equipment manufacturers, solution providers
and service providers, have been very effective
in outlining the benefits of these new solutions
and their high level design details such that
corporate business owners have started taking
interest in them. Virtualization, Cloud
Computing, Green Data Centres and Unified
Threat Management Solutions are four such
areas for which the global vendors and service
providers are actively pursuing their
customers. Many customers are already
running pilots in their IT infrastructure systems
but the mechanism of learning from the pilots
is not clearly defined and implemented. Such
large scale changes in the world of IT systems
and networking cannot be implemented based
on ad-hoc learning from pilots given that
unstructured learning approaches can lead to
incorrect and biased conclusions thus causing
major setbacks to the businesses. The focus
should not be only on saving capital
expenditure and operating costs but also on IT
services, IT governance, Information Security,
Compliance, Reliability, Business Continuity,
etc. In fact, the ground level implementation
plans and their challenges are yet to be
analysed, tested and ratified. The academic
community can find numerous opportunities in
establishing the validity of these new solutions.
The students should focus on studying the
realisation of business benefits claimed by the
OEMs and Solution Providers such that the
other side of picture evolves clearly. I hereby
present an outline of these solutions for the
benefit of students undertaking higher studies
in IT systems.

(a)
Virtualization Solutions: Virtualization
refers to the technology in which multiple
virtual machines can run on a single hardware
as if they are independent computers used by
independent users. Some strategists argue that
virtualization is one of the key deliverables in
deployment of green data centres. The
products from Microsoft, VMware, and Red
Hat can enable end to end implementation of
virtualization solutions. Many companies have
already started implementing virtual servers in
their data centres hosted on blade server
hardware. With all the buzz around, very few
have employed structured research procedures
to determine whether the self hosted
virtualization solutions are able to deliver to
the business as per the claims made. I suggest
that the students should come forward and
employ empirical techniques like
Phenomenography to investigate the actual
business benefits achieved by corporations by
implementing in-house virtualization. A large
number of topics can evolve in this problem
area. The focus should be on cost reduction as
well as improvement in productivity and
performance of the business. Gartner reports
have warned about many negative effects of
virtualization if the corporate strategies,
performance objectives and corporate
governance/information security objectives
are not included in the architectures designed
by the solution providers. In the consulting
assignments of EPROINDIA, I have observed
that the business stake holders are very
reluctant to accept virtualization to host their
business critical solutions due to absence of
proven track records and absence of empirical
generalizations in the academic world. This is a
very vast area for academic research. The
students can create multiple virtual hosting
scenarios on OPNET Modeler or similar tools
and simulate the models to generate results.
Additionally, the students may like to conduct
case studies on Corporations, SMEs and
Entrepreneurs that have already hosted their
IT systems on virtual servers. The attributes to
be investigated are: performance of servers
after hosting multiple operating systems and
applications, network traffic, user experience,
possibility of virtualising IP multimedia
solutions, fail over, data organization and
management, information security, software
delivery and licensing, auditing, IT
governance, IT services, competitive
advantages gained by businesses, etc.

(b)
Cloud Computing: This is evolving as a
service facilitating IT resources on demand by
virtue of applications and business services
hosted on Virtual IT Infrastructures. Many
OEMs have already launched cloud computing
services to corporations across the world - like
IBM Blue Cloud, Google Apps Cloud, Amazon
Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Cloud,
etc. These service providers claim that the
customers can get any IT resource on demand -
storage capacity, memory, network bandwidth,
application license, etc. The market is
developed to such an extent that millions of
customers are already availing these services.
The students have significant opportunities to
study the benefits of cloud computing to
businesses across the world. A large number of
case studies is possible because the concept has
gained popularity across the globe. It needs to
be investigated if the current virtualisation
service providers on IT infrastructure clouds
are fully ready to undertake the responsibility
of running mission critical businesses (like
banks, financial services, trading and
investments, etc.) the way they have been
running reliably in traditional data centres. It
will be quite interesting for the students to
conduct interviews with professionals that
have already hosted their services on virtual
servers. The attributes to be investigated are:
Reliability, Uptime, Speed and Performance,
Elasticity (resources on demand), Billing,
Information Systems Strategy, IT Strategy,
Information Security, IT Governance, IT
Services (to end users), etc. The cloud
computing service providers have emerged
into three categories - Software as a Service
(SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The three
categories have evolved due to different
business models, different ways of customer
engagement, and investments. The SaaS
providers normally engage with SMEs that do
not want to invest on data centres and large
scale expensive software applications. They are
dependent upon PaaS and IaaS providers. The
PaaS providers normally engage with SaaS
providers or application service providers
(ASPs) for developing, integrating, hosting and
maintaining software applications, and are
dependent upon the IaaS providers. The IaaS
providers normally engage with PaaS
providers, and with large enterprises that make
significant use of cloud hosting along with
their own self hosted virtual infrastructures.
The students may normally get access to SMEs
and hence can focus on their perspectives of
defining what they need and how much they
need from the SaaS providers, and what they
get from the latter. For example, the SMEs may
first design the business requirement
specifications and translate them into
technology needs (concurrent sessions, MTUs,
minimum and maximum file sizes, inter-arrival
times and pattern, database connects and
queries, storage space for files and databases,
retrieval times and frequencies, report
generation, DSS transactions, numbers and
frequencies of e-mails, concurrent users, etc.).
The technology needs can be modelled in
OPNET to generate the application demands
and the resulting capacity requirements on
databases, servers, and networking. The
modern concept in cloud computing is
pertaining to Cloudlets that can be viewed as
service units packaged with multiple
components offered by SaaS, PaaS and IaaS
service providers. Cloudlets can be modelled
and simulated on CloudSim, and also on
OPNET and OMNET++ to some extent. The
students may like to focus on determining
various performance, behavioural, capacity,
security, availability, resilience, etc. factors
from the perspective of SMEs, and model the
ways by which the three types of cloud
computing service providers can deliver them.
Let us understand this by an example. Suppose
that a SME needs 1024 to 4096 bytes of
database files to be queried by a browser based
application client that fires 10 queries per
minute per user. This is needed in parallel with
30 mails per hour per user, and 10 files of sizes
100KB to 400 KB transferred per user per hour.
These parameters can be easily configured on
OPNET. The resulting statistics of application
demands and resource utilisation (database,
servers, networking) can give an idea of what
is needed from the SaaS provider. The SaaS
provider will estimate the capacity of cloudlets
based on the statistics and communicate to the
PaaS and IaaS providers. The resulting service
configurations can be offered to the client at a
recurring price. This is a better approach than
signing the capacity on demand SLA, in which
the budget proposal to the management is
impossible before signing the contract. In fact
methodology of signing cloud SLAs is one such
area where numerous topics can be formulated.

I suggest that students undergoing advanced
courses in Information Technology and
Communications should develop new topics in
these areas and conduct researches for their
forthcoming dissertation and thesis research
projects. If all the current challenges are
brought to the table, I can visualise more than
100 topics on which the students and academic
researchers can undertake research
assignments. Some of these topics have already
been undertaken by students employing our
support and mentoring services but more
contribution is required from the academic
world. Tools like OPNET and OMNET++ can
be employed to simulate various real life
networking solutions to verify the behaviour
and performance of these modern technologies
in a laboratory environment. I personally like
OPNET MODELER because of its capability of
simulating real world wireless products (like
Cisco High end switches and routers). OPNET
MODELER academic edition is offered free of
cost to students by RIVERBED Inc. (now
Riverbed Technologies Inc.) under their
university program. The academic version
possesses all the features of OPNET
MODELER except that it can simulate the
maximum of 50 million events which is,
however, more than sufficient to simulate any
network model created for academic research.
ETCO India has in-house expertise and
experience in carrying out Network Modeling,
Simulation and Analysis of results in OPNET
MODELER academic edition
. After
successfully completing the network modeling,
running multiple simulations and generating
multiple reports on OPNET, the model files are
transferred to the customers' computers and
the trainings are provided over Skype
employing audio/video conferencing. Any
technical errors in the OPNET models are
corrected by taking remote control of
customers' machines over TeamViewer.
Please contact us at consulting@etcoindia.co
or consulting@etcoindia.net to
discuss your topic or to get ideas about new
topics pertaining to your subject area.
Please contact us at
consulting@etcoindia.co or
consulting@etcoindia.net to
discuss your topic or to get
ideas about new topics
pertaining to your subject
area.
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