Say you're a fisherman. Say you've just pulled up a whole mess of fish. But it being August vacation season, and you being in Europe, you're not sure how many of your local restaurants will actually be open to buy the whole catch. Would you take the whole mess back to the dock, knowing it might spoil if you can't sell it? Or would you throw back anything for which you couldn't find a buyer?
That's the dilemma addressed by a new "private cloud" application developed by Italy's University of Bari on an IBM System z mainframe. The university has essentially created an auction service that fisherman can access via touchscreens installed on their fishing boats. As fisherman pull in their nets, they can enter information about the particulars of what they are hauling in. If they don't think they'll be able to earn a reasonable price for their catch, they can throw it back. If they find a buyer, they can prepare the fish for pick up when they reach the dock, saving time on the return trip. Bari fisherman handle an average of 100 thousand tons of fish per year, so the application can sustainably cut waste.
The university has developed a similar application for local winemakers and a logistics application that interacts with sensors on trucks to collect information about temperature, humidity and traffic congestion. The information can be analyzed to determine optimal routes.
The technology at the heart of the solution is an IBM System z9 Business Class mainframe running Linux and including DB2, WebSphere and Tivoli.
Bruce Otte, senior marketing manager with IBM's cloud computing initiative, says that the University of Bari application is a great example of how private cloud services can benefit smart communities. Because members is specific only to certain group of constituents, some of the security concerns linked with public services can be sidestepped. In the case of the University of Bari, local businesses pay certain access fees, which helps justify the development costs. A single private cloud, however, can support dozens of community focused applications that are specific to the community or geography they serve.
The main difference, from a technology cultural standpoint, is that the end users decide what's important and they also decide what sorts of services they want and need rather than being told what's good for them. "This is all heading toward making life easier," Otte says. "Self-service and self-management are the keys."