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Soaring to the clouds

A world without Microsoft can save major organisations up to £1m a year, according to computing experts.

The upsurge in so-called ‘cloud computing’ – using web-based services instead of software – will be under scrutiny by experts at the University of St Andrews this week.

The School of Computer Science at St Andrews is a world-leader in cloud computing research.  Home to the first research centre in the UK dedicated to the phenomenon, the University is hosting the 1st International School in Cloud Computing for students from all over Europe.

Cloud computing is a new way for businesses to transform their IT provision.  Instead of buying expensive software, servers and air conditioning systems, they can access computer services provided by companies like Amazon and Google, via the web.

Organiser Professor Ian Sommerville heads up a virtual research pool, St Andrews Cloud Computing Co-Laboratory (StACC), that is prototyping ideas in this exciting new area of technology.  StACC was the first research group in the UK to set up an experimental cloud system in 2009.

He commented, “More than 75% of large companies (FTSE 100) are considering moving some of their IT to the cloud. Instead of using in-house systems to run their web and e-commerce sites, companies can eliminate the need to buy and maintain their own computers by using cloud services.

“Instead of buying and using office products for email or word processing, companies are reducing costs by using these services in the cloud. It also aids flexible working as services can be accessed on the move, from home or from anywhere in the world.”

Using products in the cloud on a pay as you go basis reduces high capital costs and spreads running costs over several years.  Businesses can easily cope with increased demand by simply increasing their use of cloud resources.

Last year, construction company the Taylor Woodrow group reported that using Google Apps in the ‘cloud’ instead of Microsoft Office products resulted in an estimated saving of £1 million per year.

And at St Andrews, the University was one of the first in the UK to move student email to a cloud-based Google application, and its experts are advising industry on how to make the best use of the cloud.

Professor Sommerville said, “We are now working closely with industry to develop new techniques to help them move existing systems to the cloud and to develop simulation tools that allow them to predict the costs and risks of using the cloud.”

ENDS

Note to Editors

Professor Sommerville is available for interview on 01334 463279 / 07540 669259.


Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Communications Manager on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk

Ref:  Clouds 080611

View the latest University press releases at www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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