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November 09, 2005

Community Computing Platform on OneCleveland

Earlier this year the Generation Foundation seeded OneCleveland with a $50,000 grant to support a new generation of services. OneCleveland, the region’s ultrabroadband internet provider is introducing the world’s first community computing platform, connected to its world-class infrastructure. Subscribers to OneCleveland are connected to each other at speeds up to 1200 faster than commercial broadband services. Leveraging the Gen Fdn seed investment, OneCleveland is now providing subscribers with access to computing resources that are massive in scale and with little or no costly investment in server administration and other scarce human technical resources that have limited the ability of non-profit organizations to use computing resources to really conduct business in the 21st century.

The Gen Fdn investment has already been leveraged nearly 20x. Sun Microsystems, and its President Jonathan Schwartz were enormously impressed with the OneCleveland vision and offered to make a major investment to support the community computing venture. With support from the Northeast Ohio University consortium, including the University of Akron, Cleveland State University, and Case Western Reserve University, OneCleveland has received the massive computing resource valued at nearly $1m and had it installed at the BlueBridge data center in downtown Cleveland.

Ryan Terry came to Cleveland just over 2 years ago from Chicago. A technology executive, and now MBA student at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, Ryan jumped at the opportunity to join the OneCleveland team. Ryan will have responsibility for developing collaborative application services to be used in the scalable community computing cluster.

The Community Computing initiative has already borne significant fruit. The regional effort known as Voice and Choices is using OneCleveland’s Community Computing platform to support and sustain the dialogue on the future of the region. Collaborative tools, including interactive conference tools, video and voice conferencing facilities, and the sharing of proposals and community actions plans are all being supported on the Community Computing platform. The Voice and Choices collaborative software tool set will become a permanent feature of the Community Computing environment and can be used by any of OneCleveland’s subscribers or by parties interested in these advanced collaborative tools.

Several of OneCleveland’s subscribers are now making plans to move their individual web servers over to the Community Computing platform. Using sophisticated software virtualization tools, each organization/subscriber will continue to have exclusive and secure access to their web servers but hosted on a common platform. In many cases, subscribers are shifting local technology talent away from each maintaining its own web server administration in favor of the aggregation model offered by OneCleveland.

In addition, a significant number of pilot projects have begun in what technologist call thin client applications. Thin clients are dumb or near dumb computer terminals that are all connected to the ultrabroadband OneCleveland network. Thin clients which are less expensive and more importantly near impervious to the time consuming and expensive maintenance of virus protection, spam protection, and costly operating system upgrades.

In one such project, OneCleveland is collaborating with the Cuyahoga Public Library System and Cleveland Hopkins Airport to provide web enabled kiosks to support a wide range of library services for patrons at the airport. These services include the Library’s popular ebooks, mp3 enabled audio books, and soon a pilot in educational movies and videos. A second project for the thin client initiative involves the path breaking work of the IdeaCenter, the collaboration of WCPN, WVIZ and three education network providers. The IdeaCenter will be using thin client technologies in its education and learning environments to deliver in-service materials for teachers as well as learning modules for students of all ages who will begin using the IdeaCenter early in 2006. Finally, a third example of a pilot use of the thin-client technology connected to OneCleveland will be explored with the Cleveland Municipal School District and several other education facilities including both public libraries and university libraries who are interested in the value of reliable, stable, and robust computing at schools and in libraries without the overhead of maintaining desktop and notebooks.

Ryan Terry expects that nearly every subscriber to OneCleveland will see value in the Community Computing platform. “It’s a pivotal idea, whose time has come. In the past, this type of computing platform did not provide a good experience to the users because of network latency. Well, OneCleveland’s network is much faster than most desktop attached computers or notebooks. It’s a whole new game. It’s going to be a lot of fun and produce a huge amount of value.”

Posted by lsg8 at November 9, 2005 12:08 AM and tagged Bytes 

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