On course for the cloud
A postgraduate course at the National College of Ireland’s new Cloud Competency Centre is one of the few worldwide that focus on this growing area
IT’S PRETTY CLEAR that a new academic programme is filling a gap when it is oversubscribed on its very first intake of students, with strong interest from students abroad as well as within Ireland.
That’s the case with the National College of Ireland’s postgraduate course at its new Cloud Competency Centre, which will launch formally in September.
In the coming weeks, the first taught classes will begin in a purpose-built data centre on the top floor of the college’s IFSC campus in Dublin.
Heading it up is an engaging Mexican computer scientist and academic, Dr Horacio González-Vélez, who joined NCI following a lectureship in parallel computing at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, and a research position in the University of Edinburgh.
González-Vélez is quick to acknowledge that at times it seems that almost every aspect of computing seems to be sold these days as “cloud computing”, one of the industry’s hot buzzwords. But what, exactly, is it?
“Cloud computing is like the unicorn – everyone talks about it, but no one has seen it,” he says with a grin.
A good general description of cloud computing is given by Wikipedia – “the use of computing resources (hardware and software) that are delivered as a service over a network (typically the internet).”
The “cloud” bit comes from the computing industry’s common use of a cloud symbol to represent a network, or the internet, on systems diagrams.
The point of having the competency centre and course work offered through it is to make the unicorn visible – to give the concept solidity, focus on standards, and produce graduates with a clear set of competencies and abilities, he says.
They’ve had interest from the computing industry as well as businesses looking for employees with cloud computing expertise, he notes. Employers say they cannot find people that have the right mix of skills to work in the fast-growing area.
Surprisingly, there are very few academic programmes worldwide that focus on this particular area, says González-Vélez – which probably accounts for the many applications they have had from as far away as India and Asia. The opportunity to develop and deliver such a programme in Ireland was highly appealing to him.
Though he spent several years in the computing industry in Silicon Valley, working for companies such as Silicon Graphics and Sun Microsystems, he has zig-zagged back and forth between academic work and industry.