HP Galway operation secures global cloud computing deal

24 Aug 2009

HP’s Galway facility has scored a major breakthrough in the eventual merging of cloud computing with the physical business world. HP is also in discussions with IDA Ireland around a number of additional job creation projects.

The Galway facility which began life 40 years ago as part of Digital Equipment Corporation will be spearheading a cloud-based recall service that traces and removes harmful food products from the global supply chain

HP’s Galway operations will work with the Canadian arm of GS1 – a global not-for-profit organisation – to deploy the service.

HP country manager Martin Murphy (pictured) said the deal was a major breakthrough for Ireland at the dawn of a new computing age where cloud-based services will impact on decisions consumers make in the supermarket.

“Imagine if you picked up a meat product just as a global alert went out and brought it to the till. Imagine if that package had a bar code and RFID tag that when scanned registered the alert and prevented the transaction taking place,” Murphy explained, “that’s just an example of one real-world application of this. Imagine how useful this technology would be if there was another pork crisis.

“This initiative will be lead out of HP’s Galway operations and will be the first step towards the creation of a major cloud computing research facility that will bring jobs to the area.”

Murphy said that HP was in negotiations with IDA Ireland about creating a major cloud-based competency centre that would create high value intellectual property (IP) jobs in Ireland.

“The opportunity at a macro level is that we are going to create a track and trace competency centre and bring the cloud to life. There are many potential applications for merging the cloud world with the physical world.

“We are in discussions with the IDA at the moment. The jobs that will be created will be high value. It’s too early to comment on the actual projects but I can say that our expectations are for a number of projects that will yield high value jobs suitable for a smart economy.”

GS1 says that the Product Recall service will enable businesses like retailers and food producers to ensure clear handling, disposal and reimbursement instructions to speed up the recall process, with a clear audit trail and built-in security to send notifications to retailers.

“Global supply chain standards are foundational to effective product recall,” said Art Smith, president and chief executive officer at GS1 Canada.

“GS1 global standards are used by millions of companies around the world to enhance the safety, security and efficiency of their supply chains. With the integration of GS1 standards and HP’s cloud computing platform, we are reinventing the way that recall information is exchanged between businesses, and further supporting industry efforts to improve consumer safety,” Smith said.

The head of HP’s Galway operations and a well known expert in all e-commerce related matters is Chris Coughlan. He said that the onset of the cloud computing competency centre will be an exciting first step towards the digital economy that Ireland could embrace.

“The real future for cloud computing will be enterprise collaboration. It used to be about computing power at your desk, now we’re talling about computing power that transcends mobile devices and global supply chains and in the case of the project with GS1 Canada Product Recall, technology that will guarantee safety all the way from the field to the fork.”

Coughlan said that HP has worked closely with the DERI R&D operation at NUI Galway and says that we are witnessing the opening phases of the digital economy.

“We are seeing the real emerging digital economy as we move to enterprise collaboration, beginning with track and trace and product recall.”

Coughlan said that the project goes into operation in September with a real live rollout in Canada. “This is a truly global initiative, one that puts Ireland at the forefront of cloud computing internationally.”

By John Kennedy

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