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Kevin Reed, an IBM IT architect, has played a central role in developing and running World Community Grid

Kevin Reed, an IBM IT architect, has played a central role in developing and running World Community Grid

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

As a child, Kevin Reed was surrounded by scientific research, growing up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, home to one of the U.S. government’s largest national laboratories. Clearly it made quite an impression. Today, as an IBMer in the Midwest, Kevin is devoted to helping make groundbreaking research possible in some of the key humanitarian fields of our time — and to involve potentially millions of ordinary citizens in the effort.

Kevin has spent the past seven years helping build and run World Community Grid, IBM’s volunteer computing initiative that pools unused processing power (PC downtime) donated by computer users worldwide and makes it available to public and not-for-profit research initiatives. Kevin and his team are helping accelerate visionary research on AIDS, muscular dystrophy, world hunger and more.

“This program allows researchers to look at many problems more extensively and complete research quicker than they ever could with conventional cluster computing resources,” Kevin said. “Plus, it engages the public in scientific research in a way where they are actually participating in it and making a real difference.”

Once a fan, now a force in volunteer computing

wcg_memberKevin joined the World Community Grid project in 2004, months before launch, as the Web site lead developer. He was a perfect fit for the job as he had been interested and active in volunteer computing for years, participating in both SETI@home and

Today, Kevin, an IT architect, leads the team responsible for the project’s infrastructure and Web site. He works closely with the open source software that volunteers run on their computers — known as Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing — and, essentially, makes sure the grid is up and running properly. Kevin is also responsible for forecasting — and making sure the grid can handle — future growth.

Currently, that growth averages 120 new volunteers daily. A respectable rate, but just a start, as Kevin sees it.

“We have half a million registered users, but we’d like to expand that tenfold,” Kevin said. “Every computer is important. The donated computing time adds up and increases our ability to complete important research.”

world_community_grid_map_2011_530Tapping into tablets and smartphones

Along with growing the grid’s volunteer base by millions, Kevin is particularly excited about the potential of drawing idle processing time from an explosive range of new handheld devices to increase the grid’s computing capabilities.

“Tablets and smartphones are starting to reach the point where they can do significant computations,” Kevin said. “In two to three years these devices could become powerful contributors to the grid — for instance, when you come home at night and plug your cell phone into the wall.”

Dedicated to making a difference

Seven years into the grid project, Kevin’s commitment to it only grows — as does his enthusiasm.

“We are getting real results now and I am really looking forward to the point where there may someday be a New York Times headline saying the World Community Grid helped cure cancer,” Kevin said. “Being able to say that I was a part of that will be a truly fantastic moment.”

Every grid volunteer, in fact, will be able to claim some credit for the many breakthroughs to come. After all, that’s what the grid is all about.

“Anyone who wants to help create a smarter planet, this is a great way to do it,” Kevin said. “Helping create this virtual supercomputer out of processing time that would otherwise be wasted — and to use it for the good of mankind — is definitely a smarter way of doing things.”

World Community Grid pools the surplus computer processing power of more than 1.8 million PCs registered by over 570,000 people in 88 countries to tackle projects that benefit all of humanity, like fighting childhood cancer, developing clean energy solutions or designing better treatments to fight AIDS. Volunteers simply download free, secure software that runs quietly in the background when their computer isn’t in use and crunches numbers for humanitarian research initiatives. In terms of pure processing power, World Community Grid is comparable to one of the world’s top fifteen supercomputers.
To read more World Community Grid Person for a Smarter Planet posts, click here.

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October 18, 2011
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Kevin, From our local community to the worldwide community, your efforts are being felt. Thanks for leading the way on a very worthwhile project.

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October 14, 2011
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Great work Kevin and yes I have been a contributing my unused pc cycles to the World Community Grid

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October 13, 2011
5:58 pm

Congratulations Kevin on your continued success in support of the World Community Grid. It is great to see how it has expanded. I was the IBM Service Delivery Manager during the launch of this project and for its early years and have been lending my unused pc cycles to WCG for more than 7 years now. I look forward to the day when we can enhance our contributions via smartphone and other such devices.

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October 11, 2011
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I am very impressed with Mr. Kevin Reed’s professionalism and his contributions to humane causes. I applaud him in his dedication and work.

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1 Trackback
October 14, 2011
11:40 am

[...] Meet Kevin Reed – Another person for a smarter planet. The work of our very own Kevin Reed, from the IBM Interactive Chicago Team, on the World Community Grid was recently highlighted on IBM’s Smarter Planet blog. Share this: This entry was posted in People, Smarter Planet and tagged ourteam, smarterplanet, worldcommunitygrid by Paul Beaulieu. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

Posted by: Our Very Own Kevin Reed Profiled on the IBM Smarter Planet Blog | IBM Interactive
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