Cloud computing incubator at UCC
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE Cork has partnered with Dell and VMware to create a cloud computing incubator that allows small firms to conduct a trial run of the technology.
The incubator is part of the college’s move into the cloud computing arena.
UCC’s Prof John Morrison said the service was being provided to small and medium-sized businesses free of charge. Companies can access the extra capacity on the university’s servers, which was built up over several years as a result of state projects. The university also recently invested in a cloud solution for its researchers.
The incubator firms can build and test products on the system, and access advice from UCC, but not conduct business. Once they have a viable offering, they can bring it to a professional cloud service provider.
“This is something that I knew was an issue out there, that companies knew the cloud was on the horizon, but they didn’t know how to go about it and whether they should spend any time at all going about it. Any investigation into cloud would typically cost them a lot of money, because it’s a pay-as-you-go model,” said Prof Morrison.
“We wanted to try to respond to the economic climate and help companies that were at least on the cusp of going to the cloud.”
The first companies have already gone into the cloud computing incubator and begun work, and it has gone from strength to strength, he said.
“The motivation here was to try to help companies and to put that centre stage. Until we actually started doing that we weren’t interested in telling the world about it.”
About 20 companies are taking part in the programme, and there is still room for more.
Dell designed the UCC infrastructure, and supplied the servers to the college. VMWare, meanwhile, provided software to the project.
“From our perspective, we have customers and we want our customers to be able to grow their business; and ultimately if they grow their business it’ll grow our business, and everyone grows, and that’s what’s it’s all about,” said Dermot O’Connell, general manager of Dell Ireland.
The business information systems departments at the college have also got involved, conducting seminars on how companies can change their business models and migrate to the cloud.
Dell also takes part in workshops at the incubator, providing experts to help companies solve their cloud-related problems.
“There’s a lot of reluctance from companies to give away to this nebulous thing called the cloud what effectively is their business,” said Prof Morrison.
The workshops bring these companies together with those who have successfully made the move, to share experiences and ideas.
Cloud computing has become increasingly important to businesses in recent years, and Ireland needs to “up the ante”, Dell’s O’Connell said.
“Lots of technology is migrating from desktop-based or even server-based; the next phase of that is moving to cloud,” he said.
“The technology is getting faster all the time. What that allows us to do with cloud computing is solve all kinds of problems and basically get a lot more done with less equipment, using less power and costing less ultimately.”