Curtis+Cartwright: cloud and research computing

Computing is a vital component of many of public and private sector enterprises, and almost all organisations are managing increasingly large volumes of data. There is a need to reduce costs across the board - including computing and data storage - and new technologies and paradigms such as cloud computing and the semantic web are attractive. However, large-scale compute and storage facilities carry costs and challenges as well as benefits. Economic and environmental concerns weigh alongside the challenges of equipping staff for new technologies and ways of working. The opportunities of on-demand computing without large capital costs touted by cloud providers are exciting, but they also present new challenges concerning Service Level Agreements and data protection, to name just two.

Some of our specific areas of interest include:

We provide expert advice and guidance in the issues surrounding the provision and support of research computing and cloud computing.

Our work

Case study: Cloud computing for research

We undertook a research study for JISC to investigate the potential of cloud computing for research. This included looking at the economics of research computing provision, as well as the issues around control and ownership of hardware and resources. We consulted with research computing managers and researchers across academia, and produced case studies to illustrate how research with different computational characteristics performed on the cloud. The resulting report offers both insight and practical guidance for all those investigating this often hype-driven technology.

Case study: Value of the "linked data" approach

We provided JISC with a review of the evidence for the valued of the linked data approach. Assessing the available evidence we identified the benefits, costs, risks, barriers and enablers for linked data in the UK HE sector. This involved decoupling and making clear the various approaches that have been taken to linked data, for example, 'open' and 'closed'. We provided an in-depth report, and ran a workshop for JISC stakeholders to explore the implications of our findings and recommendations.

We provide expert advice and guidance in the issues surrounding the provision and support of research computing and cloud computing. We take a holistic approach so that the full range of decision factors - technical, economic, social, legal and environmental - are considered, and take a long-term perspective so that issues like whole-life cost can be properly assessed. Each decision about whether and how to use cloud technologies and services also need to be within the context of other options of delivering the same outcomes, so we do this too so that our clients can make informed decisions. We always look to avoid the confusion that cloud and semantic technologies can generated, and instead provide clear and practical advice. We combine our strong track record of success in strategy and governance and service design, with our in-depth knowledge of research computing infrastructures to help our clients make decisions and improve services.

For further examples of our work please look here or contact us to learn more about our services.