Cloud services have become ubiquitous to all major 21st century economic activities. However, cloud services and technologies can be significantly more powerful than they are now. A persistent barrier to further advancement has been the lack of a large-scale and open cloud research platforms.

With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Chameleon project will provide such a large-scale platform to the open research community allowing them explore transformative concepts in deeply programmable cloud services, design, and core technologies. Chameleon will allow users to explore problems ranging from the creation of Software as a Service to kernel support for virtualization. This broad range of supported research includes many other areas such as developing Platforms as a Service, creating new and optimizing existing Infrastructure as a Service components, investigating software-defined networking, and optimizing virtualization technologies.

The Chameleon testbed, will be deployed at the University of Chicago and the Texas Advanced Computing Center and will consist of 650 multi-core cloud nodes, 5PB of total disk space, and leverage 100 Gbps connection between the sites. While a large part of the testbed will consist of homogenous hardware to support large-scale experiments, a portion of it will support heterogeneous units allowing experimentation with high-memory, large-disk, low-power, GPU, and co-processor units. The project will also leverage existing FutureGrid hardware at the University of Chicago and the Texas Advanced Computing Center in its first year to provide a transition period for the existing FutureGrid community of experimental users.

To support the broad range of experiments described above, the project will support a graduated configuration system allowing full user configurability of the software stack, from provisioning of bare metal and network interconnects to delivery of fully functioning cloud environments. A special feature of Chameleon is that it provides for an exceptionally close integration of clouds and networks, which substantially enhances the capabilities of both. In addition, to facilitate experiments, Chameleon will support a set of services designed to meet researchers needs, including support for experimental management, reproducibility, and repositories of trace and workload data of production cloud workloads.

The project is led by the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and partners from the Texas Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University, the Ohio State University, and University of Texas at San Antonio, comprising a highly qualified and experienced team. The team includes members from the NSF supported FutureGrid project and from the GENI community, both forerunners of the NSFCloud solicitation under which this project is funded. Chameleon will also form a set of partnerships with commercial and academic clouds, such as Rackspace, CERN and Open Science Data Cloud (OSDC), and will partner with other testbeds, notably GENI and INRIA's Grid'5000 testbed.


Kate Keahey

University of Chicago
Computation Institute
Principal Investigator
Chameleon Science Director

Joe Mambretti

Northwestern University
Internet Center for Advanced Internet Research
Co-Principal Investigator
Programmable networks

Dhabaleswar K. Panda

The Ohio State University
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Co-Principal Investigator
High performance networking

Paul Rad

The University of Texas at San Antonio
Department of Computer Science
Co-Principal Investigator
Chameleon Industry Laison

Dan Stanzione

The University of Texas at Austin
Texas Advanced Computing Center
Co-Principal Investigator
Chameleon Facilities Director

Pierre Riteau

University of Chicago
Computation Institute
Devops Lead