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North Carolina State also announced a Cloud Computing Center of Excellence

North Carolina State University’s Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) is being expanded – complements of IBM and its BladeServers – so that North Carolina schools K-12 all the way to community colleges and the University’s campuses across the state have access to educational materials through cloud computing.

Not that North Carolina is IBM's particular pet. The same VCL platform will be available worldwide - and for free - through the Apache open source community.

IBM - which has a significant presence in North Carolina's famed Research Triangle Park - figures cloud computing can help schools keep pace given the current economic pressure simply for the price of Internet access. The widgetry also supports continued teacher education with online lesson plans and tools to help "teach the teachers."

North Carolina is reportedly in discussions with a number of universities worldwide that want to replicate this cloud computing model.

Access is instant, and offers a range of options - from single desktops to classroom-sized labs, to collections of servers and other resources, to high-performance computing clusters.

The widgetry includes applications such as SolidWorks, MatLab and SAS as well as complex networking simulators, mainframe computing facilities running IBM System z, and specialized IBM's Cell microprocessors to learn, for example, about Service Oriented Architectures and IT Management.

The aged-appropriate content is projected through VCL images, which consist of an operating system, set of prepackaged applications and middleware. Once a session is over and the user has saved the data he wants to keep, his "virtual space," which runs on blade servers with hypervisors, is wiped clean. This enables the computing resources to be reprovisioned by other users as needed.

North Carolina State also announced a Cloud Computing Center of Excellence, an applied R&D facility on its campus that supports education-minded collaboration between the university and IBM's Blue Cloud development team.

IBM is also working with Google to help university students gain the skills to program cloud applications, and there are academic collaborations with Georgia Institute of Technology and Ohio State University to develop new autonomic technology for cloud computing.

Schools can download the VCL appliance at http://ibiblio.org/vclvm.

About Maureen O'Gara
Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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