Early mover advantage in the cloud computing revolution is critical and Ireland is making the right moves to exploit the opportunities, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, told this morning’s Cloud Capital Forum in Dublin.
“This is an important opportunity for a country like Ireland,” Bruton said at the conference which sought to identify the steps Ireland can take to be the cloud capital of Europe.
“Cloud computing is opening up radical new thinking about what it is to serve your customers, the information you can collect, manipulate and be alert to trends and build long-term relationships. It is leading to a massive transformation in business.”
Bruton referred to a Microsoft study that estimated up to 20,000 new jobs could be created in Ireland through cloud computing and he said that the area has been singled out in the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs.
“It is important that Ireland has ambition in this field. We are one of the countries most affected by the financial crisis, it is obligatory on us to pave the way to the new economy and I believe we are succeeding in paving that route.
“Ireland is well positioned to be a capital for the cloud-computing sector. We have established companies here who are the leading thinkers in cloud – HP, EMC, Microsoft, Dell and newer companies who are coming in and exploiting the opportunities.
“This is very exciting and we’ve built a strong infrastructure. For example, companies for many years have been locating data centres in Ireland that they have developed to capacity and to a very high spec.
“I was at the opening of the new Google data centre in Dublin which they say is the most ecofriendly data centre in its field. I thought it was exciting that 80pc of the design, construction and execution was done by Irish companies.
“So these companies are not only picking Ireland as a good environment to do business but they have built the support infrastructure here,” Bruton said.
Bruton also pointed to the work by IBM and HP in locating major research centres around the cloud in Ireland.
“Ireland has the highest level of third-level participation in Europe but we’re also seeing the realisation by young people that their futures are in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) area.
“We are extremely well placed as a country having sophisticated IP protection laws, we are reviewing the copyright laws to be up their with the best and with Billy Hawkes (Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner) we have one of the best thinkers in Europe to adapt to the needs of companies to be compatible with data protection laws; his leadership in Europe is recognised.
“We are dealing with companies at the cutting edge in terms of roll out and growth. We need to protect and secure that whole network. We have the real potential.”
Plans to double ICT skills in Ireland
Bruton said he and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, TD, will work to double the level of ICT skills in Ireland.
“We have not only set those ambitious targets but also we’re working with industry to ensure rollout is relevant. We have developed short-term placements for those in conversion courses to make sure they get exposed to what it is to be in the real working environment. That alliance with industry is important. Our education investment is going to be appropriate. Our Foresight Group is led by John Hennessy, chairman of the Higher Education Authority, who has tech industry experience and this will put us in a good position to make sure visibility of industrial needs is informing education development.”
Bruton also pointed to the Swift 1.0 standard by the National Standards Authority, which he said is designed to guide and support companies adopting cloud in their businesses in terms of the do’s, the don’ts and the potential pitfalls.
“We are one of the countries in Europe with the highest use of online tools by businesses and we believe it could be higher.”
He also pointed to the Government’s own cloud strategy and said: “Clearly, we need to see strong flagship projects in the public services to answer the problems we face.”
Bruton said half of Enterprise Ireland’s high-potential companies are internet firms.
“Ireland has to become a lead thinker in start-ups in the web space. The Dublin Web Summit brought together international start-ups, but that was supported by Irish start-ups who are building out a strong environment.”
In conclusion, Bruton said Ireland needs to tie together its infrastructural strengths, its skills and talent strengths and make Ireland the best place in Europe to locate an internet start-up.
“Early mover advantage is critical and we need to make sure Ireland exploits these opportunities,” Bruton said.
Watch a video of Minister Richard Bruton’s opening address at the Cloud Capital Forum here: