Makerere University on Friday February 12 launched its first and largest Research Private Cloud Computing System with a storage capacity of 120 Terabyte (120 million Megabytes) which will help in minimizing data loss through enabling efficient data storage and recovery.
The integrated cloud infrastructure system with modular data centre solution, server, and storage with capacities for data repository will fully enable Data Mobility and Migration Data-at-rest encryption for all 17 Makerere University-Sweden International Development Cooperation (Mak-Sida) projects and prepare Makerere University for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, according to the University officials.
Professor Tonny Oyana, the Principal Investigator who also doubles as the Principal of the College of Computing and Information Science of the project said that the system was established to provide a rapid access to flexible and low-cost Information Technology services to Makerere University students and staff.
The University has a population of over 35,000 students and 1,434 academic staff with academic programs in the major academic disciplines; Engineering, Law, Business, Education, Life Sciences, Architecture, Arts and Humanities, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Medicine and Health Sciences.
“To understand this well, let’s borrow a leaf from Google. There are Applications from Google like Word, Excel and others that we use. But you can also have storage for your E-mail and other things. On this system, we have applications too and storage for our data,” Oyana explained the operation of the Cloud Computing System.
“It’s like a book shelve where you store your books and arrange them well but this time those books are in digital format and you can offer and write things that can help you access those books,” he added.
Prof. Oyana noted that the 120 Terabytes storage capacity is enough to accommodate all the Data, since “Makerere University total Data, if all automated, may be in 50 Terabytes but if you went to the Centre, we have the capacity to grow even bigger as need arises.”
The system will, according to him, store different kinds of Data including Personal Data, Science Information, Accounting Information and any other information including online learning.
The system, housed at the University’s College of Engineering Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), he said, will create opportunities for capacity building in the Directorate of ICT Support (DICTS) to develop relevant IT knowledge and skills to grow cloud-based computing and storage applications to support Makerere University research.
Speaking to ChimpReports during the launch, Eng. Irene Kaggwa Ssewankambo, the Executive Director of the Uganda Communications Commission, who officiated at the launch, called upon experts to consider investing their knowledge in developing their country instead of rushing for greener pastures abroad.
“We have a lot of brain power in this country and let’s harness and stop leaving other people from outside to participate in the development of our country. We would not want to develop while depending on the outside countries, we need to be able to develop our solutions if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” Kaggwa said.
She called upon various stakeholders including the government to trust its own people instead of relying on experts from outside.
“We need to give our very own innovators an opportunity, a chance, so that they develop the solutions we need to carry us on as a country,” she added.
The project was funded by the government of Uganda with additional support of over Shs 1.6bn from the Sweden International Development Cooperation (SIDA) that aided in establishing the Integrated Cloud Infrastructure System, which has robust capacities for research data repository, as well as, an Integrated Hotspot Solution for all strategic areas of Makerere University.
In his remarks, Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University who was represented by Dr. Vincent Ssembatya, the Director Quality Assurance, said that the cloud computing system will partly help the University to achieve some of the objectives of the 2020-2030 strategic plan.
“We want Makerere to be holding much of the Country’s Data so that Researchers do not have to move up country looking for information,” he said.
To accomplish this goal, Nawangwe said, the University will leverage existing capacities to integrate knowledge generated through research, into teaching, learning, community engagement and the world of work in order to maximize impact.
“The University will shift from exclusively focusing on creating an enabling environment (financing, research and innovations infrastructure) to a position of defining, creating, nurturing and investing in the building blocks for a research-led University in Uganda,” he said.
With an increased number of both Public and Private Universities (11 and 40 respectively), Nawangwe said that it is now the task of Makerere to make sure that it supports the rest as regards development.
On this project, Makerere partnered with other public Universities which include; Gulu, Busitema and Mbarara, where 378 IT staffs were trained in Server Virtualization and private cloud computing.
Dr. Gitta, the Senior Science Researcher at the Swedish Embassy said that Makerere University’s vision of becoming a research led University enticed them to form partnership.
“Capacity building, institutional support, organization, graduate training and existence of environment conducive to research are some of the factors that have binded us together,” she said.