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IT Carlow Invests in €300,000 Private Cloud Rollout

IT Carlow Invests in €300,000 Private Cloud Rollout

Third-level institution IT Carlow has invested €300,000 in the deployment of a private cloud virtualisation project to ensure its ICT facilities have the agility to respond to the current and future needs of its students and staff.

Trilogy Technologies implemented and configured a Flexpod converged private cloud infrastructure, which included Cisco Servers, VMware and NetApp Storage.

A key component in the design phase was for IT Carlow to leverage its existing investment in the Cisco Nexus switching environment previously installed.

The Flexpod Infrastructure hosts a high-performance desktop and application virtualisation solution, running VMware View and Application Jukebox, which is capable of expanding seamlessly to allow the agility to present IT Carlow’s ICT environment to staff and students, whenever, wherever and on whatever device is appropriate for their needs. 

Future proofed

“We needed to make long-term strategic decisions about the nature of infrastructure required to support the needs of our staff, student research and stakeholder clients into the next 10-15 years,” said Fergal Flanagan, IT manager at IT Carlow. 

“In tandem with the natural ageing of our current ICT infrastructure, and the recent expansion of facilities to incorporate a dedicated high-bandwidth media network to support academic programmes in TV, media and sports analysis, a whole new generation of users had to be facilitated – those growing up in a new era of 24/7 service expectation, high bandwidth always-on internet connectivity, powerful mobile devices and almost 100pc laptop ownership,” Flanagan said.

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Belfast Big Data Firm Closes stg£1m Funding Round

Belfast Big Data Firm Closes stg£1m Funding Round

Analytics Engines, a Queen’s University Belfast spin-out specialising in accelerating applications for databases and big data, closed a funding round worth more than stg£1m today.

Analytics Engines‘ products are designed to offer significant benefits to companies that need to run faster, more accurate analytics on large volumes of data – such as those in the finance, genomics, utilities and database sectors.

Led by venture-capital fund Crescent Capital, the more than stg£1m investment will be used to speed up the production and exploitation of IP, diversify current offerings into new sectors, support the product development road map, and expand the company’s global footprint.

Winners of the Silicon Valley 2013 Best Emerging Technology Award from ITLG (Irish Technology Leadership Group), Analytics Engines said it improves business performance by enhancing the speed and efficiency of software applications up to a magnitude of 1,000 times.

The company has used its partnerships with Philips Healthcare, SAP, Credit Suisse and others to demonstrate significant performance benefits over systems in current usage.

“The Analytics Engines suite of plug-in accelerators allows increasingly complex analytics and enhanced real-time processing of big data in areas such as database analysis and transactional processing, to financial risk and medical imaging,” said Dr Stephen McKeown, CEO of Analytics Engines. “Tasks that formerly took hours to perform are now possible in minutes – this creates significant business opportunities that were unobtainable only a few years ago.”

Northern exposure

Analytics Engines’ CTO Prof Roger Woods, currently seconded to the company under an EPSRC Impact award from Queen’s University Belfast, said, “This is a QUBIS spin-out company doing remarkable things from a technology point of view. It is clear that simply adding increasing numbers of computer servers has its limits from both a scalability and cost perspective. With its disruptive accelerator technology, Analytics Engines is allowing extremely computational analytics to be efficiently run on large data volumes.”

According to Crescent Capital, this investment is further evidence that high technology firms with market-changing export potential are emerging from the indigenous entrepreneurial culture in Northern Ireland.

Deirdre Terrins, who led on the origination and completion of this investment for Crescent as investment manager, said, “This investment demonstrates our belief that Analytics Engines is building highly attractive and disruptive technology which is at the forefront of the needs of businesses now and in the foreseeable fast-paced future of big data across a number of high-growth sectors. We are looking forward to supporting the development and success of this exciting proposition.”

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GlaxoSmithKline Exec Urges Ireland to Focus on Gap in Industry Technology Development

GlaxoSmithKline Exec Urges Ireland to Focus on Gap in Industry Technology Development

Ireland should focus its research endeavour on technology and process development to encourage links with multinationals in high-end manufacturing, a leading pharma executive has said.

Roger Connor, from Downpatrick, runs GlaxoSmithKline’s 72 manufacturing plants worldwide, employing 27,000 staff. The Cork plant specialises in piloting products in the development phase, which he says gives it an advantage in securing manufacturing when the finished good is commercialised.

More active role
Mr Connor says Ireland could be playing a more active role.

“If we are going to introduce new technology [in pharmaceutical or consumer health production], I need an environment where I can hook into academia more easily,” Mr Connor said.

“I run what is called a seek, incubate, industrialise approach for our technology. We look. We try to find things that are out in other industries that nobody else would think of in pharma and we try to apply it.”

He said the group – one of the largest manufacturers in pharmaceuticals as well as running a major consumer health business – has a small team tracking down such innovation, typically in the US. It is in the incubate stage that Mr Connor believes Ireland can make its mark and he has raised the issue of technology centres with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a recent visit.

‘Sandpit environment’
“Where can I sandpit the technologies? Where I can throw a problem – because I can’t be resourced [in house] to solve every tech issue I have – where can I throw it to academia in a sandpit environment?,” Mr Connor said.

“They work it with our people, seconded in. They solve the problem and I bring it back in and I industrialise it. I might throw out 20 problems and only get one solved but that can be the one that makes the difference and I think that is where Ireland could play more of a role in helping,” not just GSK, but the wider industrial sector.

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Fleetmatics’ Revenues Up Almost 40pc to US$177.4m

Fleetmatics’ Revenues Up Almost 40pc to US$177.4m

Dublin-headquartered and New York Stock Exchange-listed cloud and mobile technology player Fleetmatics has reported a 39.2pc increase in 2013 revenues of US$177.4m. The company has embarked on an expansion into Mexico, Australia and the Netherlands.

The fleet-management software company’s total revenue for the fourth quarter was US$50.1m, an increase of 39.8pc compared to US$35.8m for the fourth quarter of 2012.

Net income for the fourth quarter was US$16.2m, compared to US$4.6m for the same period last year. The company saw 34pc growth in vehicles under subscription, now totalling more than 445,000 subscribed vehicles and about 22,000 customers.

During 2013, more than 4,000 new customers signed up to Fleetmatics, and its subscriber base collected 4.8bn data points.

“The fourth quarter marked a strong finish to the year, driven by continued market demand and the strong value proposition of our comprehensive software-as-a-service fleet-management solution to SMBs,” said Jim Travers, chairman and chief executive officer of Fleetmatics.

“During 2013, we successfully executed our strategy and extended our leadership position, as evidenced by the strong growth in the number of new customers, increased sales to existing customers, geographic expansion, and the introduction of new features.

“Looking forward, we believe Fleetmatics remains well positioned to further grow market share driven by our continued commitment to innovation and expanding our global reach,” Travers said.

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Dylan Collins’ SuperAwesome Acquires US Start-Up MobiGirl

Dylan Collins’ SuperAwesome Acquires US Start-Up MobiGirl

Irish e-commerce and video games supremo Dylan Collins has expanded his European youth-focused SuperAwesome empire into the US after acquiring Mobigirl Media, a mobile ad network for girls based in Los Angeles, for an undisclosed sum.

Founded by Jennifer Noonan, Cara Hall and Alison Bradley, MobiGirl Media is the only COPPA compliant mobile ad network for girls 6-16, reaching girls via highly-targeted campaigns on mobile and tablet devices.

Previously focused on the UK and European markets, the deal represents SuperAwesome’s first foray into the US market.

Founded in 2012, SuperAwesome’s kid-friendly marketing ecosystem has more than 60 content partners, as well as owning a range of kids’ properties, including Swapit, Box of Awesome and SuperAwesome Club. The company’s channels reach 20m kids each month and clients include hundreds of kids’ brands, such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros, Nintendo and others.

“We’re super excited with SuperAwesome’s acquisition of MobiGirl Media,” said Jennifer Noonan, CEO of MobiGirl Media.

“When we created MobiGirl Media, it was always our hope to grow the company internationally and team up with leaders in the field of kids’ digital discovery. Dylan and the team have been fantastic to work with and SuperAwesome is the ideal landing place for MobiGirl Media.”

Out-of-the-box thinking

Collins is one of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs, embarking on his start-up career while at Trinity College Dublin with Phorest, which is still in business today, and games middleware firm Demonware, which is also still active. Activision acquired Demonware in 2007 for an estimated US$15m.

Collins’ SuperAwesome spawned out of his Box of Awesome foray, which is now just one of the groups in the SuperAwesome family.

The business is growing organically and has not yet raised any venture funding.

“We’re profitable and will probably grow four times this year on our own steam,” he told Siliconrepublic.com.

“The US is definitely part of our focus this year – the opportunity there is obviously large. Because so many of our clients are global players (companies such as Disney, Warner Bros, and Hasbro) we’ve got a lot of pent-up demand for our platform in the US.

“Expanding our mobile reach via MobiGirl is just the beginning, you’ll be seeing a lot more activity there from us this year,” Collins said.

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Limerick-based Software Group AMCS makes US Acquisition

Limerick-based Software Group AMCS makes US Acquisition

Limerick-based AMCS Group has acquired a company in the US, making it the world’s largest waste management software company.

AMCS has bought PC Scale Technologies (PCST), based in Pennsylvania, for an undisclosed sum, adding $10 million (€7.3 million) to its turnover. PCST employs 50 people in North America.

The acquisition comes after the company closed a €23.5 million fundraising round led by Highland Capital Partners (Europe) last month,

The Limerick-company had revenues of €18 million and prior to the acquisition said it expected sales of €25 million this year from core business in Europe and North America.

AMCS was founded by Jimmy Martin and Austin Ryan and will employ 180 people after the deal, including 50 staff at PCST. After the €23.5 million investment from Highland and Investec Ventures, group chief executive Mr Martin said the company planned to hire 40 additional staff and would consider making acquisitions as it expanded overseas.

“This acquisition clearly demonstrates our ability to leverage key international growth markets following the recent investment of €23.5 million . . .”

“The acquisition of PCST provides real scale and genuine synergy, leveraging our common technology and combined industry expertise,” he said.

Mr Martin added the deal made AMCS a “one-stop software solution” for software in the recycling and waste-management industries.

PCST was founded by Donald Tefft in 1986 and has 2,000 customers, mainly in the US. It has also worked in Mexico and Canada, which Mr Martin has identified as markets the company plans to expand into.

Veteran
PCST’s chief operating officer Ken Good, a 25-year veteran of the IT waste industry, will lead AMCS’s new division.

AMCS has previously bought businesses in the UK, North America and the Nordic countries, and says France and Poland are markets it is expanding into organically.

After Highland invested in AMCS, two of its partners Tony Zappala and Fergal Mullen, both joined its board. Both men have track records in what Highland terms “transitioning to the big time.”

Mullen, a Dubliner based in Geneva, was previously a director of VistaPrint, an online supplier of printed and promotional material, which raised $120 million in an IPO in 2005, and now has annual revenues of over $1 billion.

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Yahoo! Moves All Its European Website Services to Ireland

Yahoo! Moves All Its European Website Services to Ireland

Internet giant Yahoo! will be moving all of its European website services to its data centres in Ireland, the company revealed in a statement informing users that the move will result in changes to its terms and privacy policy.

The move is in line with Yahoo!’s announcement last year that it will be expanding its presence in Ireland with 200 new employees at its Dublin operations.

“We’ve decided to reorganise our operations further and therefore, as of 21 March 2014, services provided from all our European websites will be provided by Yahoo EMEA, in Ireland.

“The structure of our business is driven by business needs and we believe it is in the best interest of our users to have Yahoo EMEA provide all services for all users in the region,” Yahoo! said.

The company said the business decision was influenced by the extensive data centre infrastructure that Yahoo! has built up in Ireland.

“In respect of Ireland in particular, Dublin is already the European home to many of the world’s leading global technology brands and has been a home for Yahoo for over a decade,” the company said.

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Novell Returns to 12-month Reporting

Novell Returns to 12-month Reporting

Pre-tax profits at the Irish arm of software firm Novell Software almost tripled to $93m (€68.9m) last year.

Accounts just filed with the Companies Office show the firm recorded the increase after revenues more than doubled, from €122.4m to €273.5m, in the 12 months to the end of March 31.

The chief factor behind the increase in profit and revenues was the firm’s financial period last year covering a 12-month term, with the prior accounting period having covered only five months.

The figures show the firm’s profits were boosted by an exceptional gain of $12.95m from the profit of sale of fixed assets.

The report stated: “Turnover has decreased versus prior period when annualised; this is primarily due to the current global economic climate. There are no significant increase in forecast revenues for 2014.

“Cost of sales and distribution costs have decreased in line with the decrease in turnover once annualised.

The firm’s cost of sales last year rose from €73.6m to €163.3m, with administrative expenses up from €11.94m to €20.16m.

The company acts as the principal for the Novell group operations in the Europe Middle East, and Africa territories.

The firm develops, sells, and installs enterprise quality software positioned in the operating systems and infrastructure software layers of the IT industry.

The figures show that operating profits at the firm last year rose by 146% from €32.53m to €80m.

The firm employs 97 people at its Dublin base. It paid $50m in dividends during the year.

The firm has current assets totalling $421.3m that included $44.2m in cash, with current liabilities of €213.9m, and, in the report, the directors state they are satisfied the company does not face any liquidity issues due to the high level of cash reserves and the strong net current asset position.

Directors’ remuneration last year rose from $97,228 to $190,757. The firm’s non-cash depreciation and amortisation charges totalling $171,198.

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50 New Jobs for Cork IT Support Company

50 New Jobs for Cork IT Support Company

Fifty new jobs are to be created over the next 18 months at Westbourne IT Global Services in Cork.

The company is actively recruiting multilingual, technical positions to more than double its workforce to close to 100 employees by mid 2015. The job creation is being supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland.

Westbourne IT Global Services is an indigenous company operating from two facilities in Cork. It provides secure, remote, IT support to global users 24/7, 365 days a year through its networks, server/storage and infrastructure software teams. This support varies from software installations to major incidents. Founded in 1994 as an IT product reseller, Westbourne IT global services has evolved and grown to become a global IT support services organisation working with a wide spectrum of multi-national and indigenous clients across the life sciences, pharmaceutical and related sectors.

“The expansion of this indigenous company is a great example of how Irish businesses can compete and succeed in global markets,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was at the announcement this morning of the new jobs.

“When I set up this company 20 years ago, I had a team of three people,” said CEO John O’Sullivan. “We are now one of Ireland’s leading providers of 24/7, multi-lingual IT support, operating in seven languages to over 25 indigenous and global organisations.

“Today, I am delighted to announce that we are actively recruiting for 50 new positions for a variety of technical positions in five different languages. Our new team members will join a rapidly expanding team of talented professionals. We have ambitious plans for continued growth over the next five years and plan to expand our workforce to 350 employees by 2019.”

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Cleverbug Raises €4.4m in Latest Funding Round – Plans to Create 25 New Jobs

Cleverbug Raises €4.4m in Latest Funding Round – Plans to Create 25 New Jobs

Social gifting company Cleverbug has raised €4.4m in a new funding round led by Delta Partners, bringing its total equity investment to €6m so far. As a result, the Dublin-based company will be creating 25 new jobs this year.

The funding will help to accelerate the next phase of business development at the Dublin company, further global expansion, and new product developments.

This year, Cleverbug will add 25 positions to its company to expand operations, broaden the breadth of the product and its functionalities, and seek strategic partnerships.

From a mobile device, such as an iPhone or iPad, Cleverbug’s app allows consumers to spot through social media if a friend’s birthday, anniversary or other life event is coming up.

Then, for less than US$3, they can customise a card from more than 400 templates and have it physically delivered anywhere in the world within 24 hours. The card also appears in the recipient’s news feed on Facebook for all of his or her friends to see.

“This time last year, Cleverbug was a simple birthday card iPhone app with elegant social graph technology,” CEO and founder of Cleverbug Kealan Lennon said.

“We never would have guessed that in a year we’d scale the product to such a degree that our users all over the world can now meaningfully celebrate almost every major holiday and every milestone with friends and family in minutes.

“Our users love CleverCards, and in 2014, we’re going to give them more of what they love, by continuing to improve the service and introduce new product.”

Cleverbug has developed proprietary algorithms that leverage its users’ Facebook connections to create beautiful, high quality greeting cards to send anywhere in the world.

The company has access to 76 printing facilities worldwide.

Fuelling momentum across the social spectrum

Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, Lennon said the investment will fuel the company’s current momentum.

“We are in discussions with a number of online and mobile partners who are looking to use CleverCards to monetise their user base through the sale of printed personalised cards,” he said.

“We are also in discussion with some large traditional global brands (whose customer base is mainly female) who want to leverage our technology and infrastructure – we solve a problem for those brands by giving them immediate access to a highly personalised product, on mobile, which has deep integration into their social graph – but fundamentally is an e-commerce opportunity selling real tangible personalised products.”

New technology developments on the horizon include a continued emphasis on user experience (UX) as well as auto-processing of photos.

“We process around 7bn photos at any point in time for 50m friends and family, so that the user is presented with an exceptional match in terms of suitability, appropriateness, and so on.

“It is this magic that our customers comment on, and the facts speak for themselves. Around 85pc of our users use the photos we have auto-populated, auto-sized with face recognition technology into card templates. This is simply not easy.

“We’re also building capabilities to offer additional greeting card content and further personalised photo and digital gift products.

“We recently developed our ‘CleverBook’ – this is a place where the loved ones in your life exist. No other social network has this and we intend to improve this unique ‘real social network’, where a mum is a mum and a godchild is a godchild not just a contact or a friend,” Lennon explained.

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