The potential role of NRENs in Cloud provision

Cloud computing is attracting a lot of interest but is a very broad concept ranging from application services (eg email) delivered over the internet, to remote compute and data storage provision. It is this latter concept of generic IT services as a utility infrastructure provision that I will focus on. Cloud services offer flexibility to meet sudden computing demands very quickly and avoids tying up capital in under utilised hardware. But is it cheaper and can it be trusted? I will argue that there is merit in providing private clouds for the research and education community and that there are parallels to early national engagements in network provision where the market could not readily supply the needs of this community. And further, that if national private clouds make sense, then linking such clouds across Europe, and potentially more widely, should also be explored.