JEDDAH: The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is holding a three-day global IT summit starting today to review and analyze its next five-year IT strategic plan.
The summit will focus on the drivers and operating strategy to keep KAUST a top research institution and move it forward.
It raises a question expressed by John Larson, the university’s chief information officer: “What should KAUST be looking at in the next three to five years that we should start preparing for today to stay and remain a global tier-one research institution?"
With the presence of 100 IT experts and business leaders from around the world, the meeting will raise topical issues in emerging technologies.
“We’re looking in particular for these scientists and business leaders around IT to talk about their experiences, where they see technology going, help us define the types of infrastructural changes we need to make and implement, and what we should teach our computer scientists," Larson said.
The main topics to be discussed at the summit were chosen based on a survey KAUST ran among experts in the field to know what key issues their organizations are dealing with and looking to adopt.
They include cloud computing for research, supercomputing infrastructure and strategies, global high-speed networks and collaborative research, research data management and information security for global collaborative research universities.
These are “new, disruptive technologies that we see on the horizon that are going to create a major shift… and that we need to be prepared for,” Larson said.
He focused on the importance of collaboration among high-performing, research-oriented universities in the field of IT.
KAUST has been active in supercomputing and has high-performance computing capabilities.
“We see in the next three to five years sharing that with companies and universities in Saudi Arabia,” said Larson.
“What we’re hoping is for our attendees to potentially hold this kind of (summit) every two to three years, and have the next one at another tier-one research institution outside Saudi Arabia, wherever there’s a strong interest in high-performance computing and IT supportive research.” He named Caltech, MIT and Hong Kong as places where IT research is active.
In 2007, Aramco held a similar event where it brought in IT experts and business leaders from around the world to talk about the late King Abdullah’s vision of what he wanted to accomplish with KAUST.
Aramco’s summit laid out some of the critical infrastructure required for universities going forward, with a particular focus on global collaboration — “being able to work and connect with researchers and universities anywhere in the world, and to have high-powered computers do simulation and analysis of some of the research activities that were envisioned for KAUST,” said Larson.
“This laid the foundation for how KAUST opened, and how we’ve been operating for the last five to eight years.”