One of the foremost minds focused on the development of cloud computing in Ireland, Ray Walshe of the Cloud Computing Technology Research Centre, believes that while tech giants and large firms have developed a perspective around cloud computing Irish SMEs have a long way to go.
Walshe is also associate dean in the Faculty of Engineering and Computing at DCU. He is also a principal investigator and architecture theme leader at the Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce and is director of cloudCORE at DCU.
In addition, he sits on the steering committee for the EU’s Future Internet Assembly.
The Cloud Computing Technology Research Centre at DCU is funded by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, and was established to support the needs of industry in Ireland as they move to the cloud.
The centre exists as a consortium of third-level institutions, including DCU, University College Cork (UCC) and Athlone Institute of Technology.
Cloud: a €48bn opportunity
The cloud computing revolution is a €48bn opportunity, according to Gartner. Ireland is already a global destination for cloud when you consider the massive investments by Google, Microsoft, HP, IBM, EMC and many others.
According to Walshe, the centre has a five-year programme of work aimed at helping to make Ireland a world leader in this fast-growing area, and at making a significant contribution to jobs and economic growth.
Walshe believes that Irish SMEs are playing catch-up to the cloud compared with their European and US counterparts. “The technology companies are doing their bit, putting out the technologies and making advancements. The larger corporates and multinationals are already on board with this technology.
“The major problem to date has been SME adoption. The smaller businesses are wary of getting involved in cloud. ‘Is my data secure? Where is my data?’ These are the areas where they would have genuine concerns. But most of these issues have already been addressed by the technology industry.”
Walshe believes the answer to this conundrum is education.
“We need to get the information to them about how secure the various cloud services are and the fact that there are huge companies already using these public, private and hybrid services for running their business processes.
“I think if we can get that knowledge out there to the SMEs and convince them that migration to the cloud and cloud deployment is not something to be scared of, then I think we will be in a better position.”
Among the services available to SMEs from the consortium is an incubation facility at UCC where firms can try on the cloud for size and simulate various scenarios. Other groups are hard at work drafting up white papers and reports to educate firms about moving to the cloud in terms of matters such as economies of scale, and pros and cons.
But Walshe believes there is so much more that can be done in terms of the community of technology companies in Ireland and finding a way to get them to interface with traditional SME firms.
“We have this wealth of knowledge in Ireland, an abundance of riches in terms of technology and skilled people and we are generating graduates who are being snapped up by the tech sector. The tech sector is generating more jobs than any other sector at the moment.
“The tech sector can support SMEs in terms of architecture, security and business processes and help them choose the right solutions to adopt to their businesses,” Walshe said.
Join Ray Walshe and Ireland’s digital leaders who will gather to discuss cloud computing and the big data revolution at the Cloud Capital Forum on Friday, 23 November, at the Convention Centre Dublin