'Cloud computing' could create 20,000 jobs
Ireland could create almost 20,000 jobs by rebranding itself a world leader in "cloud computing", a report has found.
Industry chiefs also claim public sector costs could be slashed by shifting systems on to the new technology.
Paul Rellis, managing director of Microsoft Ireland, said "the cloud" could be worth €9.5bn to the economy by 2014.
"The potential of this thing is big and there really is a great opportunity, if there is some speed and urgency put behind this, to take a disproportionate share of the global cloud computing market in Ireland," he said.
Cloud computing allows people to store applications and software with companies and access them on demand over the internet.
It has been described as the computing equivalent of linking into the electricity grid or gas network.
The technology cuts out the need for users to build and manage their own complex and costly systems.
Goodbody economic consultants, who were commissioned by Microsoft Ireland to investigate its potential for Ireland, found businesses could halve IT costs by using "the cloud".
Savings would help 2,000 small and medium companies get off the ground with the creation of 11,000 jobs, the report claims.
Another 8,600 new jobs would come from companies specialising in "cloud computing" if Ireland took a lead in the market.
Mr Rellis called for a major cloud-based public sector project which would cut costs and send out a signal that the country is embracing the technology.
Barry O'Leary, chief executive of IDA, said a flagship project was really important for promoting Ireland.
"Provided we get in early enough, we can capitalise on the opportunity," he said.
More than half of IT firms in Ireland surveyed for the report were already either developing a cloud-based project or planning one for the future.
The market is believed to be worth around €12bn, but is expected to grow to between €40bn and €110bn.