Archive for October, 2010

Open Data Centre Alliance created

Friday, October 29th, 2010

With the assistance of Intel, an Open Data Centre Alliance has been created to help produce more “open and interoperable” cloud solutions.

An Open Data Centre Alliance has been established to help companies move forward with their cloud initiatives.

Over 70 major companies have signed up to the alliance, including BMW, JP Morgan Chase, Marriot International and Shell.

They will draw up future hardware and software requirements to produce more “open and interoperable” cloud solutions.

Intel helped establish and launch the independent group and has been appointed as technical adviser.

In its utopian cloud vision, Intel believes the alliance will “accelerate the inevitable outcomes” of the cloud progressing towards greater openness, said vice president in the Intel architecture group, Boyd Davis.

Speaking today during the launch of the Cloud 2015 vision at CERN’s Globe of Science and Innovation in Switzerland, Davis claimed Intel had been a major part of helping establish standards in other areas of technology previously.

Now the tech giant wants to facilitate the establishment of standards in the cloud, without inhibiting innovation.

The alliance members will draw up a roadmap for cloud developments and will use this to guide purchase decisions and planning for future data centre innovations.

Version 1.0 of this roadmap will be made into a public document ready for the first quarter of 2011 and any corporation will be able to access it to help guide their cloud plans as well.

A member of the steering group, BMW’s vice president of IT infrastructure Mario Mueller, explained the benefits of the collaboration initiative.

“The alliance will give us a unified voice to speak together about what we collectively need to … address the challenges we face inside of our organisations as quickly and effectively as possible,” Mueller said.

“For the first time an independent consortium of leading global IT managers will work together to share their collective knowledge to find the requirements of the data centre and cloud environments for today and, of course, for tomorrow.”

Within the alliance there is a marketing committee and a technical coordination committee.

The latter has chartered five work groups, including services, management, infrastructure, security, and government and ecosystem, all of which are now in the process of forming alliance objectives.

IBM has also been busy initiating projects to help firms with their cloud initiatives.

Earlier this week, Big Blue launched its Cloud Computing Lab in the UK, designed to help partners reap the benefits of the cloud.

Virgin – 100Mbps broadband service announced

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Virgin announced the roll out of its 100Mbps broadband services this week after Prime Minister David Cameron effectively leaked the news on Monday.

Existing and potential customers can pre-register for the 100Mbps broadband service, capable of delivering speeds of up to nearly ten times the UK average.

Parts of London, the south east and Yorkshire will be able to take advantage of the speeds from the start of December 2010, with complete rollout expected to be finished by mid 2012.

While some have praised the announcement, rival ISP BT has criticised the pricing of Virgin’s superfast broadband offering, which costs £45 per month as a stand-alone service or £35 when bundled with a phone line.

An affordable, high-speed nationwide broadband network will be essential for businesses if they want to improve their productivity by adopting cloud computing services.

Spending Review: List of major projects given the green light

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

List of projects across the country given the go-ahead in the Spending Review document

North West

  • Mersey Gateway Bridge – new suspension bridge over the River Mersey between Widnes and Runcorn
  • West Cumberland hospital redevelopment
  • Royal Oldham hospital redevelopment and Typhoon fast jet construction

West Midlands

  • HS2 – new high speed rail link from London to Birmingham, and then to both Manchester and Leeds
  • Midland Metro – route extension and capacity increase
  • Birmingham New Street – station upgrade

South West

  • Weymouth 2012 package – an integrated transport package to be delivered in time for the Olympics
  • Poole Bridge – new bridge providing link to key development sites

South East

  • A23 – improvements to the A23 Trunk Road between Handcross and Warninglid
  • Diamond Synchrotron – Phase 3 development of the national science research facility
  • Surrey – St Helier hospital redevelopment

London

  • Crossrail
  • Transport for London – continued funding for the London Underground upgrade programme which will increase capacity by 30%
  • UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation
  • M25 – widening from junctions 16 to 25, and 27 to 30

North East

  • East Coast – improvements to the East Coast Main Line
  • Nexus – £500m refurbish and upgrade the Tyne & Wear metro

Yorkshire & the Humber

  • Leeds Station – new southern entrance to improve access
  • Yorkshire – northern urban centres rail capacity improvements

East Midlands

  • A46 – improvements between Newark and Widmerpool
  • M1/M6 viaduct – replacment of failing Catthorpe
  • viaduct carrying the M6 over the M1 at Junction 19

East of England

  • A11 – upgrading the remaining section to provide a continuous dual carriageway link between Norwich & the M11

Capital Spending Review in education facilities and science parks for the UK

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

The long awaited Capital Spending Review took place this week and the good news is that £15.8 billion has been set aside for refurbishment and repair work on up to 600 schools in need of urgent assistance.

Key points from the spending review for education

Annual education budget = £57.6bn 
£15.8bn for 600 UK schools
Direct funding to schools in England to be protected 
Budget will rise 0.1% in real terms each year, taking funding from £35bn to £39bn 
Spending on school buildings to fall 60%
£2.5bn “pupil premium” for teaching for disadvantaged pupils

The UK Knowledge Economy loan could eventually see up to £2bn invested in education facilities and science parks in the UK

The European Investment Bank is to invest £500m in further education facilities and science parks in the UK.

The UK Knowledge Economy loan will be passed to three banks, which will invest in higher and further education facilities, science parks and incubation centres.

The first £150m of lending has been agreed, with more lending expected next year when more banks come on board. The EIB said the programme could potentially be worth up to £2bn

The three banks so far involved are RBS, Santander and Lloyds.

Vince Cable, minister for innovation, said: “The science and research community is very successful at securing funding from a diverse range of sources, so this new loan facility will be a welcome addition to the options available for universities and science parks in the UK.”

Ofcom to axe 170 staff as budget is cut by £30m

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Ofcom is being forced to shed up to 170 staff, nearly one in five employees, and slash its spending by £30m as part of swingeing cuts to meet the public sector deficit.

Ed Richards: Ofcom chief executive

Ed Richards: Ofcom chief executive

Staff at the media regulator were told of the proposals today by chief executive Ed Richards, who said the organisation needed to “re-focus” because of spending constraints.

The proposal means 170 of Ofcom’s 870 staff members will exit. Staff have now entered a 90-day consultation period.

Ofcom has offices in London, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for Ofcom said the cuts were across the organisation, though Richard’s role as chief executive will not be impacted.

Ofcom currently employs a range of professions, including advisors, administrators, call-centre handlers, and back-office workers. Its current funding cap of £143m will be reduced to £112.7m by 2015 as part of the government-prompted cuts.

It says the reduction will deliver 28.2% real terms savings.

The job and budget cuts follow last week’s announcement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport outlining plans to strip Ofcom of a number of powers as part of the government’s efficiency drive, including returning the policy-setting role to the secretary of state.

Richards said: “These are difficult times for everyone in the public sector and it is right that Ofcom plays its part meeting the challenge facing the public finances.

“We also need to re-focus in the light of changing markets and technological developments, and of course in respect of the budgetary constraints. This is why we have taken the initiative and today set out detailed proposals for both reducing expenditure and achieving greater strategic focus and organisational effectiveness.

“I am absolutely confident that Ofcom will emerge leaner, stronger, and fully able to build on its excellent track record of delivering benefits for citizens and consumers.”

The U.S. smart grid is set to boom by 2015

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

The U.S. smart grid is set to boom by 2015, growing to a $9.6 billion market with smart-grid management services generating $4.3 billion in revenue, according to separate reports from GTM Research and Pike Research.
The smart-grid market in the United States will grow 70 percent to $9.6 billion by 2015, according to a Sept. 24 forecast from GTM Research analyst David Leeds. The market research company currently pegs the market at $5.6 billion.

The term smart grid refers to a next-generation electricity delivery network designed to monitor household and business consumption and automate control mechanisms. Rather than depending on a single technology, smart grids consist of a web of networks allowing real-time communication between users and power providers.

The expansion will be driven by federal grants for utility modernization, competition between utilities companies and investments in smart-grid technology by large IT companies, according to GTM Research. For example, utilities can submit their plans and budgets for approved smart-grid projects by Sept. 30 to qualify for a share of the $3.4 billion in federal stimulus grants.

GTM Research analysts calculated the 2015 forecast by compiling outlooks in four core technology sectors: advanced metering infrastructure, distributionautomation, home area networks and smart utility enterprise.

“Over the next 10 to 15 years, GTM Research expects the distinction between ‘smart grid’ and traditional grids to dissolve,” Leeds said.

The smart grid is not just about adding communications capabilities to the electricity grid. It also requires integrating back-end utility systems so that companies can analyze the data being generated and act accordingly, he said. With business intelligence in place, smart grids can adjust supply for a specific area based on demand and time of the day, reroute the distribution path if there is a problem in a section of the grid, and support new applications, such as renewable and electric transportation.

GTM Research analysts estimated that large-scale deployment and integration would cost about $165 billion.

Since the deployment timeline is about 20 years, according to the report, full penetration is still decades away. Even so, utility companies are increasing investment in advanced metering infrastructure, such as smart meters, energy displays and appliance controls. These projects will allow utilities to move away from flat-rate billing to variable rates depending on usage and let consumers adjust their usage patterns accordingly, the report said. It also predicted that smart-meter deployments would reach 48 percent nationwide by 2015.

Utility companies are not the only ones looking at this market: Some of the biggest names in technology are building smart-grid offerings. Cisco Systemshas an extensive line of energy-monitoring devices, routers and management software, such as the Cisco Network Building Mediator, which tells managers how much power is being used by elevators, heating and cooling systems in a building. IBM offers consulting, design and implementation services to utilities companies, while Intel has been working on IEEE standards for smart-grid technologies.

A separate report released by Pike Research on Sept. 22 predicts that utilities companies will depend on outside experts to deploy, manage and maintain these grids. Global spending on smart-grid management services is expected to grow to $821 million in 2011, up from $470 million this year. Smart-grid management services alone will generate $4.3 billion in revenues by 2015, according to the report.

While there are economic benefits to improving electricity distribution, the growing popularity of electrical transportation is a bigger driver for smart-grid investment, according to both market research companies. The number of plug-in cars and trucks in the United States is expected to reach 841,000 by the end of 2015, Pike Research said.

GTM Research identified systems integration and data managementsolutions as additional areas of investment.

“The day is quickly approaching when the bulk of new hardware, software and systems added to grids will be intelligent,” said GTM Research’s Leeds.

Time to recognise the power of ICT for environmental change

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

ICT can be a great force for pursuing sustainability, says Malcolm Johnson, director of Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau ITU

 

Malcolm Johnson, director of Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau ITU

Malcolm Johnson, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, at the ITU Council 2010. Photograph: V. MartinInformation and communication technology (ICT) have taken over our lives. We are reaching a stage where networked devices may number trillions.

There are obvious environmental ramifications to this exponential growth. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), if IT power consumption continues to grow at 15% a year it will represent 40% of all global electrical consumption by 2030. Apart from the carbon footprint created by the use of ICTs there are other considerations in manufacturing, transport, mining of rare metals and the issue of waste.

However, we can also harness the power of ICT for environmental good.

ICT can help manage smart buildings that power themselves and then feed energy back into the electricity grid, a new smart grid providing a much more efficient distribution. It can power smart buildings, manage better water distribution and power intelligent transport systems.

Intelligent transport systems (ITS) can clear our cities of debilitating pollutants and traffic jams. In connected cities you will be directed to the nearest available parking space, GPS enabled systems will make traffic flow better and intelligent ambient lighting will appear only when and where it’s needed. ITS can also be applied to public transport, to respond more efficiently to customer needs as well as providing the means for electric cars to provide distributed energy storage in network downtime.

Urban broadband access for everyone will help to create a level playing field of opportunities for the underprivileged. Teleworking, already happening today, will increase as urban environments implement universal access, enabling more flexible and efficient working conditions.

Sensor networks and artificial intelligence will become embedded into the physical environment of our cities. Already digital spaces and public problem solving tools are emerging as solutions for positive change.

International consensus on standards for climate change mitigation and adaption, environmentally friendly and energy saving technologies, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission accounting and verification, will provide a firm foundation for designers, architects, engineers, developers and government authorities to create sustainable living environments.

For its part, ITU has standardised a methodology giving ICT companies a consistent mechanism to report on their carbon footprints, and continues to produce more energy efficient global standards, such as the universal charger for mobile devices, saving an estimated 13.6m tonnes of CO2 and 82,000 tonnes of redundant chargers, every year. No more drawers full of redundant chargers!

If supported by smart policies and proper standardisation, ICT can be a force for good in creating a kinder, more connected and colourful world.

The financial and economic crisis sweeping the globe has hampered investments for alternative technologies, while placing ever greater stress on the business case for going green. Fortunately, many national stimulus packages stipulate that rebuilding infrastructure be done in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Even conservative estimates show a significant contribution can be made through the application of ICT. Companies can exercise corporate social responsibility while also improving efficiency and reducing costs. There are some truly compelling reasons for businesses to take in this challenge.

This article was produced for Guardian Professional – a commercial
division of Guardian News and Media.