June 2014

Backblaze storage appliance, CC-BY Flickr user ChrisDag
If anyone remembers June 25th 2014, it will probably be because of rising tensions in the Ukraine, or footballing incidents. But there’s something else – this was the day that Google announced their Drive for Work product, offering unlimited Google Drive storage for a nominal fee to business users via the Google Apps suite. Infinite storage had previously been a unique selling point for a small number of startups with big ambitions, but now one of the Internet’s major firms had legitimized it. In the research and education sector we watched with interest, and sure enough on September 30th 2014 Google followed up with the announcement of Google Drive for Education – free infinite storage for staff and students. On October 27th 2014 Microsoft announced that they would be giving all Office365 customers infinite storage too.

In the UK we have around 100 universities using either the Google Apps or Office365 products, which Jisc has brokered national deals for through our cloud services activity. A “decent” Storage Area Network with Fibre Channel, 0.5PB-1PB of mirrored SAS storage [*] and tape backup starts at around £500K, so this potentially represents savings to the sector of as much as £50m. Good news as we head towards Austerity 2.0? But I think we will see much more radical change in the future, as the corporate IT function is increasingly “hollowed out” by these kinds of services. Watch Microsoft’s promo video above for their RemoteApp technology and ask yourself whether in the future we will get most of our Windows applications from a corporate instance of the Microsoft Store – with all those nasty software packaging, licensing and billing issues handled for us. Perhaps we have only just started to see the disruptive effect of cloud computing on corporate IT, and in years to come we may find ourselves looking back at June 25th 2014 as the day it all changed.

[*] Such as you might require to establish a Research Data service, or users’ home drives.

[This piece originally appeared on the Jisc Technology Foresight blog]

Janet has launched a new scheme called Janet Reach, which aims to strengthen the engagement between academia and industry. To enter the scheme, joint proposals are invited from commercial and academic partners, for innovative R&D projects using e-infrastructure facilities. We will be accepting proposals on a rolling 2-month basis - the next deadline is 31st July 2014.

Successful proposals will result in industry partners being provided with a high capacity Janet connection, typically at 1Gb/s or greater. This will give them access to a wide range of e-infrastructure resources, situated within Universities and research organisations, to carry out R&D projects. Academic partners in the scheme will be able to use their existing high-capacity Janet connection to move large volumes of data quickly between the partner facilities. By collaborating with industry on these projects, they also have the potential:
  • To raise the profile of their university through association with respected industry names
  • To strengthen their relationship with industry partners for future collaborations.
  • For long-term revenue streams – access, support and guidance on the effective use of their facilities
Industry partners will benefit from:
  • Access to a wide range of e-infrastructure resources (eg. HPC)
  • Using their high-capacity Janet connection to move large volumes of data quickly between the partner facilities
  • Increasing the potential to quickly take innovative ideas from concept to reality
  • Participating in the scheme regardless of size.
  • Sharing skills and expertise with academic partners.
Criteria for the scheme and details on how to submit proposals is available on the Janet website and all projects must adhere to state aid rules.

For a more in-depth discussion about the scheme, please contact Janet-reach@ja.net

Has your institution used Google Apps, Android, Chromebooks, Glass or other Google technologies in an innovative way? We would love to hear from you, and would like to take the opportunity to showcase your projects at GEUG14, the Google Apps for Education European User Group conference.