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Showing posts from September, 2008

Cloud Computing Panel

I’ve just attended a panel session on Cloud Computing in Newcastle, which gave several points of view on the uptake and applicability of Cloud. The discussion covered Sofware as a Service (e.g; SalesForce, EMailCloud), Platform as a Service (e.g. Google App Engine, Arjuna) and Infrastructure as a Service (e.g. Flexiscale, Amazon EC2).

The optimistic view, taken by the majority of the panel, was that we are on a journey towards cloud computing becoming the norm for business computing. Duncan Mactear of 4Projects sounded a more cautious note; his company provides SaaS for the construction industry but does not use cloud; instead their servers are hosted in a third-party data centre. To which Tony Lucas of Flexiscale pointed out that 10 years ago, similar companies weren’t even using hosting services.

Sarat Pedirela of Hedgehog Lab, an ISV, pointed out that the appropriate infrastructure will depend on the type of application. Currently, Hedgehog use cloud for non-critical applications…

Webinar: Powering your business with Cloud Computing

On October 14th, I will be hosting a Grid Computing Now!
web seminar on the topic of Cloud Computing. We have lined up two very interesting speakers who are using Cloud now to make businesses work.

Ross Cooney had a good technological solution to sell but couldn't make it economic until Cloud Computing allowed him to pay for his computation only when he needed it. He will discuss the instant benefits and long term impact of cloud computing to the development, competitiveness and scalability of your application.

Alan Williamson created the BlueDragon Java CFML runtime engine that powers He advises several businesses and will give an overview of the different types of services available and how to avoid being locked-in to a single supplier.

You can register for this event here.

Technology Strategy Board: Information Day, 22nd October

I've been asked to publicise the following event.

The Technology Strategy Board has arranged an Information Day for Wednesday 22nd October to outline the various R & D Competitions being planned over the next 9 months.

This Information Day will provide delegates with an opportunity to find out about the activities of the Technology Strategy Board and gain an understanding of the application process for Collaborative R&D Competitions as well as find out about other Technology Strategy Board activities.

The event, being held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Central Birmingham, will open at 09:30 for a 10:00 start and will close at approximately 16:30; a full agenda will be available shortly.

To register for this event please click on the following link and complete the on-line registration form

For more information on the Technology Strategy Board please visit their web site

Competition: Grid Solutions for a Greener Planet

This is a reminder that Grid Computing Now! is running a competition to find uses of grid technology to reduce human impact on climate change. The competition is open to anyone who is 18 or over and resident in the UK. So get your thinking caps on and submit your best ideas! The topic is deliberately wide, as is the interpretation of "grid", to allow a wide scope for proposals.

The deadline for entries has been extended to Friday October 17. This extension is particularly intended to give more time to university staff and students who wish to enter.

The initial proposal just requires 1,000 words describing the proposed solution. See the competition web page for background information and details of how to enter. There are two tracks, one for IT professionals and the other for everyone else (including students).

AHM 2008

I was pleased by our workshop on research opportunities this week. Our speakers met several people who were interested in their work and might contribute to taking it further. It's hard to measure the outcomes of these events, because the collaborations that we are aiming to catalyse may take months to firm up and then may take much longer to produce actual results, but the first impressions are positive.

Some of the networking happened outside the workshop itself, of course. That is the advantage of face-to-face meetings; sometimes all you need is to bring the right people together for the first few minutes. Also, you can follow serendipitous links, such as when a colleague pointed me at the workshop on declarative data centres that Microsoft Research Cambridge and HP Labs organised earlier this year. I think the UK is building a critical mass in data centre management and I hope this can be encouraged to the point where it becomes a viable industry.

Beyond our workshop, there …

Workshop on Research Opportunities

This week will see the annual conference for UK e-Science, which for historical reasons is called the e-Science All-Hands Meeting. I have organised a knowledge transfer workshop for the Tuesday afternoon, with the aims of presenting research opportunities for e-Science in the UK commercial and public sectors. We have four excellent speakers lined up.

Mark Ferrar is the Director of Infrastructure Architecture for NHS Connecting for Health in England. Mark is interested in opportunities for using the processing power available to the NHS to improve clinical outcomes, for example by running HPC models and diagnosis applications.

Liam Newcombe is tackling the question of "Green IT" in data centres. This is a big topic in the industry, because energy prices are rising and carbon accounting is being deployed. Liam has developed an open-source integrated model of data centres for the BCS and the Carbon Trust. He is looking for collaborators to further improve this model.


Greening the desktop

I attended an interesting workshop this week. It was one of the series that Peter James has put together for his SusteIT project; this one focussed on desktop PCs. The talks and panels looked at measurement procurement of energy use, procurement options, desktop grids, power management and thin clients. In any sizeable organistion, Desktop PCs use a large amount of electricity and there are many options available for reducing this consumption - and saving money too. This is the second time that I've seen a British university do the sums and expect to save £250,000 a year.

The panel on power management tools was interesting. These seem to be coming of age at last. Operating systems have had support for managing individual computers but a large organisation needs a system for managing thousands of PCs, with different policies for different groups, and of course the important facility to wake up in time for the distribution of updates.

James Osborne gave an interesting analysis o…