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CERN's Approach to Mass and Agility

Tim Bell (CERN)
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CERN is the European Centre for Particle Physics based in Geneva. The home of the Large Hadron Collider and the birth place of the world wide web is expanding its computing resources with a second data centre to process over 35PB/year from one of the largest scientific experiments ever constructed.

Within the constraints of fixed budget and manpower, agile computing techniques and common open source tools are being adopted to support over 11,000 physicists in their search for how the universe works and what is it made of.

By challenging special requirements and understanding how other large computing infrastructures are built, we have deployed a 50,000 core cloud based infrastructure building on tools such as Puppet, OpenStack and Kibana.

In moving to a cloud model, this has also required close examination of the IT processes and culture. Finding the right approach between Enterprise and DevOps techniques has been one of the greatest challenges of this transformation.

This talk will cover the requirements, tools selected, results achieved so far and the outlook for the future.

Photo of Tim Bell

Tim Bell


Tim Bell is responsible for the CERN IT Infrastructure Group which supports Windows, Mac and Linux across the site along with virtualisation, E-mail and web services. These systems are used by over 11,000 scientists researching fundamental physics, finding out what the Universe is made of and how it works. Prior to working at CERN, Tim worked for Deutsche Bank managing private banking infrastructure in Europe and for IBM as a Unix kernel developer and deploying large scale technical computing solutions.