Cybera presents at BCNET/CANARIE Conference 2010

Cybera President and CEO Robin Winsor and CTO Patrick Mann presented this afternoon on Cybera Pilot Projects '€” "Virtualization, Clouds and Middleware '€” a reflection on lessons learned through Cybera's pilot project initiatives and the future direction of these projects".

Of particular interest to me was Winsor's presentation on public demand for network services. While Alberta's urban centers are fairly well served, rural access to cyberinfrastructure still falls short of meeting the networking needs of residents and businesses.  In fact, Canada is ranked as 19 in overall world access to internet. Winsor however, sees a great opportunity in this challenge, and would like to develop a provincial compute-utility to address the problems of building and delivering services across the province. Ultimately, this would create a competitive edge for Canadians, in an international market where cyberinfrastucture is key.

Winsor's vision of a compute-utility is not grandeous '€” it wouldn't be feasible for Cybera to jump directly into serving 4 million Albertans. What he does suggest however, is providing services to a physical community, and seeing what happens.  The community he is currently in conversation with is Olds, AB.  Olds already has a mandate to become the small and medium enterprise capital of AB by building a superior cyberinfrastructure that connects every home and business. With 7200 residents, 3200 homes and businesses, and a vibrant college (on Supernet no less), bringing greater connectivity to Olds may almost be too easy.  

Although 4/5 people around the world believe access to internet is a fundamental right, it is still important to test and validate assumptions. How this idea takes off, and whether Olds is indeed the testing ground for this particular innovation will be an interesting project to watch unfold.