Cloud computing model at the heart of York professor’s research

Information technology Professor Marin Litoiu is partnering with IBM on a research project that will drastically reduce the time and cost businesses spend on installing, administering and operating software on their employees’ computers. Funded by the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), the project will focus on the development of new forms of information technology (IT) deployment and operation in which desktop software is provisioned and maintained on a server and made available to the end user as a service over the Internet.

Right: Marin Litoiu

“In enterprises, it is estimated that the cost of IT management is 70 per cent of the company’s IT budget,” says Litoiu. “The management of employee’s desktops – the provisioning, software updates, security patches etc. – can be a huge time constraint on IT departments. Having a desktop run on a server can alleviate most of the client management problems by enabling easier provisioning through desktop templates for common roles and easier software updates.”

Litoiu’s project builds on the Cloud computing model, which is a new deployment and operational model in which high-level computation services and storage are provided via the Internet or “cloud”. His research will investigate a two-layered cloud computing model for desktop virtualization: in the first layer, different clouds will offer basic hardware functions such as storage and raw computation; the second layer will be service-oriented and offer higher level computational services that provision and manage end user desktop software.

“The scenarios we consider will be in the context of software development teams,” he says. “We envision a computing infrastructure in which the user’s desktop software can be easily migrated from the user’s PC to a cloud and from the cloud to the PC. The user can run the software using remote terminal software or on a classic PC or laptop. By running the desktop software on the server machine, we ensure portability, mobility and reliability of the software and a reduced cost of desktop maintenance.”

Litoiu teaches in the School of Information Technology in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. He is an expert in adaptive and self-management software systems. Prior to his appointment at York he was a senior research staff member with the Center for Advanced Studies, IBM Toronto Lab, where he led more than 30 research projects with academics and partners across the globe. As a developer and researcher in IBM, Litoiu contributed to the development of the many commercial tools and led many technology transfers from academia to IBM. He holds five international patents. Litoiu is the director of research for Centre of Excellence for Research in Adaptive Systems (CERAS) and former chair of the board of directors for Consortium for Software Engineering Research (CSER). 

For more information on his project, e-mail