Universities Pilot 'Tools as a Service' Cloud Computing Initiative

Research institutions that are part of the Ontario Centres of Excellence have launched a "Tools as a Service" (TaaS) cloud computing pilot program with IBM in an effort to provide researchers, students and faculty with access to business software and software development tools.

The program is designed to provide participating research institutions with savings in energy and financial costs associated with hosting on-premises tools while at the same time boosting productivity. It's being deployed on cloud computing infrastructure through the Centre of Excellence for Research in Adaptive Systems (CERAS) and is running on virtualized IBM BladeCenter servers on some of the pilot campuses.

The tools on the CERAS cloud are available to all students and researchers involved in the program through a Web portal, including Internet-based access to WebSphere Integration Developer and Rational Software Architect.

"The researchers will have access to some of the latest enterprise software securely without needing to upgrade their own hardware systems or expand their data centers, and without the need for on-site expertise to install and get the tools running," according to information released by IBM today. "TaaS provides the end user with sufficient computing resources to use the software, regardless of the capability of their own hardware. TaaS is able to preserve users' data from their last session and restore it so they can continue from where they left off with the software tools."

"Traditionally, software development tools were installed and run on workstations and students had access to them only during the lab hours," said Marin Litoiu, computer science professor at York University and one of the early participants in the pilot. "Tools as a Service allows the students and researchers to access IBM software tools anytime and from anywhere, using minimal Web infrastructure. Besides being very convenient for the end users, Tools as a Service enables better use of university resources, as the same cloud infrastructure can be used for teaching and research, and by many users."

Those participating initially in the pilot also include: University of Waterloo, Queen's University, University of Toronto, Carleton University and the Ontario Cancer Institute, as well as developers from the IBM Canada Software Lab.

Further information about IBM's Tools as a Service initiative can be found here.

About the Author

Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters.

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