The Ontario Centres of Excellence has launched a pilot project that gives university students, professors, and other researchers anytime, anywhere access to some of IBM's software via cloud computing. Early adopters of this pilot include the University of Waterloo, York University, Queen's University, University of Toronto, Carleton University, the Ontario Cancer Institute, and developers from the IBM Canada software lab.
This Tools-as-a-Service initiative will provide the participating research institutions with cost and energy savings. 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. TaaS provides the end user with 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," says Dr. Marin Litoiu, Computer Science Professor, York University. "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."
The software is deployed on the CERAS cloud computing infrastructure which is an expandable collection of IBM BladeCenter servers physically located on the campuses of some of the participating universities and virtualized by a virtual machine monitor. All of the students and other researchers participating in this pilot can access the tools on the CERAS cloud through a single web portal.
CERAS is a research partnership established between IBM Canada's Centre for Advanced Studies, the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and eight universities to advance the development of next-generation software services and applications, including software as a service. Research results from this collaborative research body were applied in this commercialized solution of TaaS, whose software engineering implementation was done by the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies' Technology Incubation Lab and a post-doctoral fellow and graduate students of the participating universities.