MIT credits Irish-based entrepreneur with co-coining term ‘cloud computing’

1 Nov 2011

MIT Tech Review's article last night featuring Sean O'Sullivan

An Ireland-based entrepreneur living in Kinsale has been recognised in the latest edition of the MIT Technology Review as co-creator of the term ‘cloud computing’ and as being an early proponent of the development of cloud computing.

MIT Technology Review last night credited Sean O’Sullivan, co-founder of Avego Ltd, with co-coining the term with George Favaloro, from Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1996, O’Sullivan’s company, NetCentric, was a leader in providing “software for inside the internet”, and Compaq Computer’s Favaloro invested US$5m in the idea to develop the industry of software providers for internet infrastructure.

“It has been a blast from the past to hear about this,” says O’Sullivan. “NetCentric correctly predicted the evolution of LAN services and  in-computer services to the cloud, and although we didn’t manage to capture much of the business for ourselves, cloud computing has had an impact on close to half the people on the planet.”

NetCentric trademarked the term “cloud computing” in 1997, and let the application expire by 1999. In 2001, another internet company purchased NetCentric.

“Cloud computing” is the delivery of computer services through the internet infrastructure, and has been credited with transforming the media, computing and telecommunications industries.

Services such as Skype, Apple’s iCloud for content and data, and well-known computing applications like MSN Hotmail and are all applications of cloud computing. Amazon and Google also have large cloud platforms.

Making a difference

O’Sullivan has gone on to create and manage other major computing and non-computing initiatives, such as Avego Ltd, a worldwide provider of  revolutionary mobility software. He also runs SOSventures, a highly successful venture investment fund with investments in Europe, China and the United States.

It emerged in recent days that SOSventures has taken a strategic investment in Silicon Republic and successful technology entrepreneur Bill Liao will come on board as a director.

O’Sullivan’s previous investments include Harmonix, which created Guitar Hero.

“My first company, MapInfo, became a US$200m company that pioneered street mapping on computers. NetCentric helped invent the cloud-computing industry,” said O’Sullivan. 

“We hope and expect that Avego will be the next company that helps to change billions of people’s lives, by making wasted seats in cars, vans and buses available to the public,” O’Sullivan said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years