The UK’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) – ‘the UK’s Innovation agency’ - is providing £5m to support thirteen business-led research and development projects that will address the business and technology challenges impeding the adoption of cloud computing. Including investment by the participating companies, the total value of the projects is around £10 million.
The TSB, which is supported and funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and other government departments, was set up to stimulate technology-enabled innovation in the areas which offer the greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity.
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the TSB, said: “The market for cloud computing services is growing by 26% each year. It is an area with exceptional potential for growth. Finding the correct balance between trust and flexibility, without compromising security, is vital. Through this support we aim to help UK suppliers of cloud infrastructure and outsourced IT services to work together on the challenges that are holding-back the adoption of cloud computing, in order to capture a bigger share of this expanding market.”
Apparently, previous TSB studies have shown that three overarching issues present a challenge to adoption for many organisations – interoperability, resilience of data and identity assurance. The aim of the projects supported by this funding is to develop solutions that help to resolve these challenges. For example, interoperability can be improved by the ability to use more than one supplier and build hybrid services, and ease of changing from one supplier to another. Resilience of data can be addressed through maintaining confidentiality and privacy, and ensuring data integrity.
Ten collaborative R&D projects – led by Arjuna Technologies Ltd, BAE Systems Ltd, BBC, Building Research Establishment, Jaguar Land Rover (2 projects), MobiBiz Ltd, Smoke and Mirrors Productions Ltd, Telefónica UK Ltd and Worknet Ltd – and lasting up to two years will share grant awards totalling £4.74 million. And three ‘fast-track’ projects, lasting up to 12 months, will each receive up to £75,000. These will be led by AIMES Grid Services CIC Ltd, Metrarc Ltd and ThinkingSafe Ltd.
Review: The TSB’s intention is to promote the market for UK cloud computing suppliers, so this isn’t a green IT initiative per se. In any case, cloud computing is not itself a guaranteed way of reducing emissions, as I’ve said many times before. Much depends on the energy efficiency of the supplier’s data centre.
But there’s enough evidence to show that overall the use of cloud computing will reduce IT emissions. Data centres, particularly the larger ones run by IT services companies, have the economies of scale and the financial incentives to reduce energy use more than is possible for those running a few local servers. So while it may not be the intention, the TSB’s initiative should help to green IT in the UK.