Yahoo is expanding its cloud initiatives, extending its reach into research territory.

Initially available only to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Yahoo’s 4,000-core, 1.5-petabytes-of-storage M45 cluster is now available to their counterparts at the University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The universities will use Yahoo's cloud computing cluster to conduct large-scale systems software research to explore new applications that analyze Internet-scale data sets, ranging from voting records to online news sources.

Yahoo’s M45 cluster runs Hadoop, an open source distributed file system and parallel execution environment that enables its users to process massive amounts of data.

Apache Hadoop is an open source project of the Apache Software Foundation, to which Yahoo engineers have been the primary contributors to date.

Yahoo joined forces with Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard, Santa Clara-based Intel Corp., the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Infocomm Development Authority in Singapore, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany to create Open Cirrus, an open source test bed for advancing cloud computing research and education.