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The University of Texas and a Pennsylvania technology company have agreed to be partners on a cloud computing research center on UT's campus.

SunGard Availability Services, based in Wayne, Pa., plans to make a "high six-figure" investment in the center, said Indu Kodukula, executive vice president and chief technology officer at the company.

The cloud computing center will initially have four or five faculty members assigned to it, said Bruce Porter, chair of UT's computer sciences department.

The center's research will focus on areas such as mobile computing, networking, verification, fraud protection and encryption, officials said, and will include developing approaches to protecting data as it traverses the cloud and the Internet.

"Cloud computing today is still in the early stages of development. As an industry, it's still very much in its infancy. There are a number of problems that need to be solved in the next five to 10 years," Kodukula said.

He said his company rated UT highly both for its research prowess and its openness in working with industry to commercialize research discoveries.

The center will begin operation almost immediately, Porter said, and will eventually be housed in the new Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex, which is scheduled to open in late 2012.

Porter said that UT became aware about nine months ago that SunGard was looking for a research university to join with on the project and that UT is "always looking for opportunities to find a good partner from the industry in some research area that we're interested in."

"We have built strength in the areas that relate to cloud computing — distributing computing, operating systems, fiber security," Porter said. "This is going to give us a chance to explore research topics in these areas, really at full scale. Oftentimes, a university researcher is left with building relatively small prototypes of a computer system, or maybe even running computer simulations. But with this partnership, we'll be able to collect data and look at the performance of full-scale systems that are built on research results coming out of this partnership."

SunGard Availability Services is a subsidiary of SunGard , a leading software and IT services company with about 20,000 employees and annual revenue of about $5 billion.; 912-2960

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