With its promise of unlimited storage and the possibility to create seamless bridges between various devices it is hard to argue that cloud computing is not going to play a large and significant part in our digital futures. Ireland, by the great good fortune of its geography and climate, is well positioned to be play a key part in the physical storage and management of cloud based data.
According to a report in April, 2011, from Forrester, “Sizing the Cloud.” The global cloud computing market, which was valued at just over $40 billion in 2010, will be worth $240 billion in 2020.
There are many businesses who wish to be part of that growth and in this new technological frontier they need people with the appropriate training to help them move forward. More importantly, they need people with more than generic expertise in a given field. Businesses need people whose education matches the roles that they need filling and the tasks that they need doing.
For that to happen industry has to tell education what it needs. Similarly, colleges and universities need to create new courses or adapt existing ones, as much as is reasonable, to ensure that local businesses are able to benefit and students are appropriately skilled for a new, dynamic, ever-changing job market.
Responding to the shifting technological and business landscape, the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has launched two new graduate conversion programmes which are for graduates from non-computing disciplines to gain an academic qualification in cloud computing.
The Higher Diploma in Science in Cloud Computing and the Higher Diploma in Science in Cloud and Mobile Software Development will provide conversion pathways for graduates from non-computing disciplines so they can more closely match the needs of the current IT market.
Tim Horgan is the Head of the Cloud Computing Centre of Excellence at Cork Institute of Technology. He says, “We have a need for [these courses.] We have consulted widely with industry in the region and they told us they have a requirement for people with the skillsets that are contained in these programs.
This collaboration between industry and the CIT took place over a period of time. Tim says they went; “Through feedback, through consultation, through meetings on the campus, through online surveys. We have captured the desired skillsets and designed a program around them.
“The companies are telling us, “We need people with these skillsets.””
The first semester is focused on general computing. The second semester is a deep-dive down into the three components that underline cloud infrastructures; virtualizaton, data storage and the workings of the internet.
The next part of the course focuses on applications that work in the cloud. CIT has invested €1.5 million on its own private cloud infrastructure which the students can use in their coursework to practice and test their acquired knowledge.
It would seem obvious that the ideal participant would be someone with an engineering or science background who can understand problems and be able to solve them with logical thought processes.
But Tim and his colleagues are casting their net wider, “This is not the only type of person we need. Companies have told us they need language skills. They need native Irish speakers who can speak German and have a technical competence.
Above all, Tim says, “Interest is key.”
By taking on course participants with a different academic background then one would normally expect for a subject like cloud computing it is hoped to solve a common problem amongst businesses which they say needs to be addressed.
For a long time companies have had to bring people from outside Ireland who have had the broader base of required language and technical skills. But as Tim points out, “The problem is that not being Irish, sooner or later, many of them want to return home.”
Another piece of good news is that these programmes are supported by the Higher Education Authority and Department of Education and Skills and the tuition fees normally associated with these programmes are waived.