Qatar researchers keep heads in the cloud


It’s a case of from the sublime to the simplistic with cloud computing this week. On one hand we have the new Qatar Cloud Computing Initiative, which aims to develop cloud computing technology and provide a platform for local organizations to test applications in the cloud. Essentially, it will provide massive computing power to academic research organizations. On the other hand Google has announced it is experimenting with ways in which users can utilize Gmail when operating outside the cloud.

The Qatar project, which is being led by Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Qatar University and Texas A&M University, is part of a series of initiatives IBM is undertaking around the world to enable academic research projects that require substantial computing power. The cloud approach enables the sharing of computer resources thereby allowing cost efficiencies to be generated while ensuring more powerful resources are available for data intensive projects.

At first, the three universities will share access to a single cloud at Carnegie Mellon but future phases will see the integration of the cloud with computing centers at the other two. In addition, it is envisaged that the initiative may look to include the resources of Qatar Science and Technology Park and examine how cloud computing can be made available on a commercial basis.

Meanwhile, on a more prosaic level, Google, which is a keen proponent of cloud computing for its online applications, is to offer its Gmail service offline. Cloud computing’s weakness is that there are occasions when the network is inaccessible and apps like Gmail seize up under those conditions. As a consequence, Google is working on providing the capability to users to search, write and read Gmail messages while not connected to the network.

Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.