Cloud computing offered at no cost to Alberta startups and researchers

RAC launchUp to one year of free access to cloud computing is now available to Alberta researchers and entrepreneurs through a pilot program designed to advance the use of technology in the province.

Research and education organizations, and entrepreneurs, are the target users of the cloud services being offered by Alberta'€™s not-for-profit advanced technology agency, Cybera. The service, called the Rapid Access Cloud, is available for prototyping and research.

"€œMost if not all of the major technology companies are using the cloud because it offers huge competitive advantages," says Robin Winsor, President and CEO of Cybera. "€œHowever, researchers and entrepreneurs —€” people trying out brand new ideas — might find the cost of this technology to be a barrier when they aren'€™t yet sure what the return on investment will be. This program can provide that environment for discovery and invention."

Cloud computing is considered transformational because it eliminates the need for computer servers on the premises of a company or research team. Instead, users get instant online access to a share of pooled computing resources, called a cloud. It removes the need for users to purchase and maintain physical hardware. Cloud computing also allows users to scale up, and just as importantly to scale down, computing resources to perfectly match their changing demands. This can help entrepreneurs test prototypes in a real-world computing environment, without having to purchase expensive equipment just for testing.

"€œThrough a strategic investment in Cybera, the Government of Alberta is helping to build the infrastructure and ways of working that will keep Alberta competitive in a highly technological world,"€ says Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk. "This Rapid Access Cloud helps Alberta researchers and entrepreneurs shape their own unique and strong programs, and builds up the provincial expertise and capacity for shared IT services in the process."

The cloud program in Alberta is linked to a national program with a similar goal called the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR). Both programs allow users to try out and evaluate cloud infrastructure before they invest in using a commercial cloud service.

These subsidized cloud computing programs aim to lower the barrier to entry for Canadian entrepreneurs and researchers who are interested in trying out cloud services.

BACKGROUNDER

The Alberta-based cloud, called the Rapid Access Cloud, is a one-year pilot program funded by the Government of Alberta to:

  • Help researchers experiment in cloud computing environments
  • Help small and medium-sized enterprises prototype, test and validate new products
  • Provide a staging ground for businesses to learn about running services in the cloud before moving to a commercial platform

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

The Rapid Access Cloud program is open to Albertans who would like to use cloud computing for research, experimentation, or testing purposes.

This is a complementary program to the Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR), a national program offering a cloud environment where Canada'€™s entrepreneurs can test and develop new technology applications, products and services. The Alberta-specific program was designed to meet the needs of individuals or companies that are not eligible for the national DAIR program.

HOW TO GET ACCESS

Eligible applicants should visit Cybera'€™s website for more information.

OUTCOMES

The national and provincial cloud programs will get Alberta inventors and researchers going in the cloud, and prepare them for transition to either another platform, depending on their project goals.

FUNDING

The national and provincial programs are funded by respective governments in each region. Cybera operates and manages the Alberta based cloud service while CANARIE manages the national program. The programs strive to provide resources to individuals that improve Alberta'€™s competitive position in the technology sector.

About Cybera

Cybera is a not-for-profit, advanced technical agency that helps to advance Alberta'€™s information technology frontiers. In one of its core roles, Cybera is the architect and guardian of CyberaNet, the ultra high-speed broadband network that connects Alberta universities to the international system of research networks.