IBM, Nicta to collaborate on open source

IBM has formed a joint venture with National ICT Australia (Nicta) to open its first Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) outside North America. The centre will focus on open source software with the anticipation of attracting the attention of government and enterprise IT departments with the researchers primarily based at the University of New South Wales.

Phillip Bullock, CEO, IBM Australia, said the centre provides links into worldwide research, primarily in software.

“Local researchers can collaborate with others around the world,” Bullock said. “This is a three-year project between IBM, Nicta, and the University of New South Wales and is designed to improve the performance of open source operating systems. By doing this IBM is extending its Linux Technology Centre investment.”

Bullock said IBM is consolidating more than $40 million a year in research investment in Australia.

“At this stage we haven’t invested anything; however, the provision of hardware is planned," he said.

Hugh Blemmings, manager of IBM’s Linux Technology Centre in Canberra, said, “We will be performing a technology advisory role to CAS,” Blemmings said.

Professor Brian Anderson, interim president and CEO of Nicta, said the organisation was chosen because of its commitment to research, training, linkages, and commercialisation.

Anderson said the agreement means students will be able to spend time at the IBM Linux Technology Centre, the headquarters of which is based at Australia Technology Park in Sydney.

“The federal government won’t speculate on what it hopes to gain out of its open source research for internal technology operations,” Anderson said. “Although the majority of our funding comes from the federal government - around 65 per cent - we are not viewed as a government department in the same way CSIRO is.”

Also present at the launch was Senator Richard Alston who said ICT has come from a “crossroads” a few years ago to a firmly established sector of our economy.

“Nicta is potentially one of the great success stories,” Alston said. “Open source is a classic example of competition which is very beneficial. It does give us the opportunity to take technology to the limits.”

Nicta is funded by the Department of Communications Information Technology and the arts, and the Australian Research Council through Backing Australia's Ability and the ICT Centre of Excellence program. The federal government has allocated $129.5 million to establish the centre through to 2006.

Dr Mel Slater has been appointed as CEO and president of Nicta, effective May 15, 2003 and Professor Anderson will move of his interim role in that position to chief scientist.

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More about Australian Research CouncilAustralian Research CouncilCSIROCSIRODepartment of CommunicationsIBM AustraliaIBM AustraliaNICTAProvisionUniversity of New South WalesUniversity of New South Wales

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