OCF, the data processing, management and storage provider, has announced a new on-demand service that allows any UK business to use processing power from universities’ High Performance Computing (HPC) facilities.

The company has so far signed a collaboration agreement with the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Laboratory to provide the enCORE service. OCF is also in talks to set up partnerships with other academic institutions, and said that there is “no reason” why private HPC suppliers cannot come onboard.

OCF’s managing director Julian Fielden said that around 40 to 50 research universities in the UK, including Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial Universities, will all have some investment in HPC.

Michael Gleaves, business development manager at STFC, said: “For us making the best use of our research budget, it presents the chance to gain a superior server cluster – capital equipment – and offset costs. The partnership between OFC and STFC will also ensure the cluster is fully utilised during any dips in commercial demand.”

STFC has a System x iDataPlex, 2.5 Tflop server cluster, and under the agreement, it will make around half of its processing power available to OCF’s customers, who will get priority on the server cluster.

OCF said that its service will help businesses who need to deal with short-term peaks in demand, and also enables SMEs to pitch for larger projects that would not be possible otherwise, due to limits in their IT infrastructure. It may also be useful for businesses who want to permanently reduce their capital expenditure by using the on-demand service.

Customers using enCORE service will pay a “small” annual subscription, plus a cost per core hour used. They can then access the service through a web portal. Customers will sign the commercial contract with OFC, which will in turn pay the HPC power provider an agreed rate based on the time used.

Fielden expects the enCORE service to begin operating with pilot testers in the New Year.