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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cloud Computing in Qatar

As Yahoo shuts down its own contribution to office on the web, Yahoo briefcase, three of Qatar's universities announce a initiative to develop cloud computing on the web. 

Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing: explanation

For the non-techies amongst us cloud computing refers to the ability to complete tasks and store information on the web. 

If security can be guaranteed the advantages are huge. 

When a laptop is stolen or a hard drive fails a user can just get on another computer - any computer - access "the cloud" and continue as before. 

It also means one does not have to lug around laptops or sensitive data - instead users can have different computers in different locations without having to worry about transferring data - a boon if a person works partly in the office and partly at home.

It is also great for collaboration - as we have found with writers in Qatar, an editor in Japan and a programmer in India. 

One document can be uploaded to the cloud - we use Google Docs - and then shared with other parties, who can then edit or annotate the original document. 

The Players


Yahoo's briefcase was one of the forerunners of cloud computing, but has been taken over by over services.

As Yahoo! pointed out, other services like Flickr - offering online photo storage - are also examples of cloud computing. 

(Indeed, images used in this blog post are those stored by users on Flickr and licensed under Creative Commons.)

In many ways Google is leading the race (though it lags in photo storage) with Google Apps, a paid service for offices, Google Docs and Google Video and You Tube. 

Meanwhile Amazon Web Service are providing extremely cost effective services for web developers - a move which has been extremely popular, with over 300,000 developers using the service by 2007. 

Qatar's Contribution

Now Qatar is getting in on the act with the Qatar Cloud Computing Initiative. 

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Qatar University and Texas A&M University are collaborating with IBM both develop cloud computing and to build a cloud computing network which will allow Qatar based organisations to test applications on the net. 

Further steps may see the Qatar Science and Technology park integrating its resources with the project. 

Embracing ICT

Qatar can put some European countries to shame with its recent efforts to embrace IT.

We were very impressed when Hukoomi was launched, and even more so when North Western University demonstrated a program that could go out on the net, collect the most important news stories of the dayand turn it into a news broadcast read by an online bot - all without the intervention of a person. 

The launch of a Qatar based Science and Technology park will hopefully maintain the pace of development of technology in Qatar.

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