EMC has formed a new partnership with Purdue University that will provide students and staff an impressive 100 gigabytes of free storage. The move is part of a larger five-year initiative between EMC and Purdue to address challenges and opportunities related to big data. Purdue gets IT help from a major vendor, students and staff get free storage and EMC gets a larger presence in the education sector – it’s a win for everyone.
The new service, called BoilerBackpack, will have many of the same features common in other cloud-based file storage services like synching files between devices and file sharing. The service will support Windows and Macintosh PCs and apps will be available for Android, iPhone and iPad. Users will also be able to purchase additional storage if they exceed the 100 GB allotment. The university and EMC are still try to resolve how users will access the service when they leave the university. According to statements from the university, the service should be available in time for the start of the fall 2012 semester in August.
EMC has also signed on as a Foundational IT Partner for Purdue, which means the pair will work jointly to develop new technology architectures for curating and managing research data. Advances in data management are becoming more important for continuing the pace of discovery in areas like the biological sciences that are generating massive datasets that are impractical to analyze using conventional tools and techniques. The new EMC and Purdue partnership includes plans to work together in several ways:
- University researchers will gain access to a new, on-demand massive storage facility
- EMC and Purdue will work to develop new technologies to consume, analyze, transfer and manage research data sets, especially in the field of bioinformatics
- Purdue will begin building a repository of all of the university’s intellectual property with assistance from EMC
- Research engineers and scientists from EMC and Purdue will work together on academic papers and presentations for academia and commercial conferences
The efforts of Purdue and its Foundational IT Partners may extend beyond the university’s campus. The university has some lofty goals. Purdue hopes accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and improve student success rates across all of higher education.
Academia may not be well known for being early adopters. Donor and public scrutiny often means tight budgets and risk averse technology leaders. In spite of these stereotypes, universities are often a big target for tech companies like EMC. These companies aren’t just trying to contribute the greater good by funding efforts that benefit students. University systems sign long stable contracts, demonstrating success in one academic setting can make vendors more attractive to other institutions and in some cases it can build a loyal user base that will take those loyalties into the work place.