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Sunderland City Council has announced it will create a multi-million pound cloud computing platform that will serve the entire city.

Working with IBM, the council plans to use the cloud for its internal needs, but to also make the cloud available to organisations based in the city. Its aim is to support local start-ups and businesses, and to attract investment to the area.

Paul Woolston, Chair of the North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "Sunderland is very much at the forefront of developing and growing the software industry in the North East

“[This initiative] raises our game to an international level and will assist the whole of the North East to attract investment and create opportunities for businesses across all sectors."

By having IT services delivered through the cloud, Sunderland council expects to cut its hardware and software costs, and its operational costs by £1.4 million a year over the next five years.

Local businesses will also be able to use the cloud for increasing their capacity and capabilities without investing in new infrastructure.

IBM will plan, design and implement the cloud for server and end-user computing, using as much of the existing hardware and software at the council as possible. The council’s 4,000 users will have a standardised desktop model.

The company will also provide network, storage and server hardware, as well as server virtualisation technology and monitoring facilities, under the contract. The cloud will be hosted in the council’s data centres.

In addition, IBM will provide services including business continuity, backup and disaster recovery services.”

Last week, it was revealed that Sunderland would be the first city in the UK to have “wall-to-wall” superfast broadband coverage.

BT has invested significantly in Sunderland to bring its superfast broadband network to 90 percent of homes and businesses in the city by summer 2012. There are plans to expand this connectivity with other providers in the city.

Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "The City Council is investing in Sunderland's infrastructure, ensuring the city is the easiest place in the UK to do business - whether you're a small to medium-size enterprise, or an international manufacturing giant.

"Being able to announce that Sunderland will be the first city in Britain to offer wall-to-wall access to superfast broadband is the result of our vision, ambition and commitment.”