Cloud computing challenges organisations to think about more effective ways to manage their computing needs. But it also presents Australia with a challenge in terms of ensuring that the country's skills are sufficient to take advantage of the economic opportunities that may stem from this new form of computing.
So the Australian Academy of Technology Sciences and Engineering has created a working group on cloud computing, chaired by Professor Craig Mudge and including representation from groups such as Google, Microsoft and IBM, the research organisations CSIRO and NICTA, and many of Australia's leading universities.
Mudge describes cloud computing as a disruptive technology that will have profound implications in both science and business.
The goal of the working group is to create a roadmap of how to best utilise it for business and scientific purposes, while investigating broader issues such as security and privacy.
The working group is also involved in a series of projects to better understand the utilisation of cloud computing, one of which is exploring how new programming models can deliver cost breakthroughs in genome mapping.
"There are these mini projects, running on a cloud at Amazon Web services, all helping to lift the understanding of cloud computing," Mudge says.
In the short term he hopes that this will lead to expanded teaching of cloud computing programming models at university, with the longer term goal of Australia taking a lead position in the development of cloud technology.
"Its contribution to innovation can be profound," Mudge says. "The next Facebook or Twitter can be created by an Australian entrepreneur with almost zero capital cost, since compute and storage costs are usage-based." -- B Howarth
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