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Ed Suffern, Master Inventor, IBM

Ed Suffern, Master Inventor, IBM

By A Smarter Planet

With the holiday gifts unwrapped and unwanted presents returned to retailers, many shoppers are putting the frustrations of the gift-buying season behind them. While many skipped the long lines at traditional retail outlets in favor of online shopping convenience, they likely faced their own set of problems, due to some unseen cloud computing technology challenges they may not be familiar with.

Anyone who has ever logged onto a website and encountered the “spinning wheel” when trying to find a product or complete a purchase has experienced what is known as the “noisy neighbor” problem in the cloud. The so-called noisy neighbors are actually bandwidth-demanding virtual machines (VM)  supporting other website users who may also be searching for items and placing orders, downloading music, watching a movie or a myriad of other online activities. The noisy neighbor situation creates bandwidth issues that prevent online shoppers and other users from receiving the responses they expect from the websites they are visiting.

Meet the Master Inventor who helped solve the noisy neighbor problem. Ed Suffern, a senior engineer and Master Inventor at IBM, leads a team at ResearchTrianglePark in North Carolina. Suffern is responsible for developing the architecture for IBM Intelligent Cluster solutions that provide fully tested high performance computing and cloud infrastructures to service a variety of customer applications.

With the help of Suffern’s team, IBM was granted a patent in 2013 for an invention that enables dynamic provisioning virtual machines. What the patented invention does is allow the provisioning manager to identify online hotspots where VMs are taking up large amounts of bandwidth and then dynamically move them to another physical system where they’ll receive faster response times no matter how many users are accessing the server at the same time.

IBM schematic for the dynamic provisioning of virtual achines.

IBM schematic for the dynamic provisioning of virtual achines.

“We first recognized this issue three years ago when we were talking about potential areas of concern with virtual machines,” explained Suffern. “Although it wasn’t necessarily a problem users were facing at that time, we’re constantly thinking about things that could pose an issue in the future and developing solutions that help us avoid them. That’s how IBM maintains its leadership in the cloud space.”IBM’s patented invention isn’t just well suited for online retailers and shoppers.

“Take a sporting event or natural disaster, for example,” Suffern said. “Afterwards, there’s a flood of users trying to access news online in order to get the latest updates. Our solution allows a large number of users to access the same information at the same time without slowing response times. We move users to a different physical server that has identical information, and we do so seamlessly and dynamically so users have no idea they’re being moved.”

Suffern has worked with IBM for the past 40 years, spending the last four years focusing on high performance computing solutions. He currently holds 25 active U.S.patents. The dynamic provisioning of VMs invention was developed by Suffern and a team of co-inventors, including a hardware and network engineer, and three remotely-based software engineers, over the course of four months.

IBM received U.S. Patent #8,352,953: Dynamically Provisioning Virtual Machines for the invention, one of the record 6,809 U.S. patents the company received in 2013.

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January 20, 2014
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January 15, 2014
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