IBM and Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., are collaborating on cloud-computing technologies that could connect voice and data communications to help cities deal with hurricanes and natural disasters.

Announced on Nov. 21, the cloud platform Marist will use is based on software-defined networking (SDN), a technology that allows data center operators to control data within physical and virtual networks.

Use cloud computing to access data in the event of a disaster. Ensure that networks have redundancy. Develop the redundancy and automate using open-source SDN controllers.

IBM and Marist prepare a cloud platform for managing natural disasters.

Using cloud computing and SDN,  IT professionals will be able to make changes to network resources remotely using Marist’s wireless device and open source network controller, according to IBM.

"A year ago, Sandy left millions of individuals and businesses in the Northeast without electronic communications for days, weeks and even months — in some cases, data centers were literally underwater," IBM Distinguished Engineer Casimer DeCusatis said in a statement. "With our invention, a data center operator could quickly and simply move data and applications to another data center outside the danger zone in minutes — from a remote location using a tablet or smartphone."

Part of the New York State Cloud Computing and Analytics Center, Marist’s SDN Innovation Lab is testing the platform.

"Our SDN Innovation Lab provides a cloud networking test bed for early SDN adopters, including IBM clients, and also offers an opportunity to evaluate new technologies across our entire infrastructure here at Marist College," Robert Cannistra, senior professional lecturer for computer science and information technology at Marist, said in a statement.

IBM has also worked with Marist to deploy a SmartCloud platform, which is Big Blue’s line of cloud technologies for private, public and hybrid clouds. Marist’s SmartCloud consists of an IBM zEnterprise 114 mainframe with the SUSE Linux OS as well as IBM’s z/OS and z/VM OSes.

This type of cloud computing technology could be used to keep data such as electronic health records accessible in the cloud when a disaster such as 2012’s Hurricane Sandy strikes. An alternative to cloud computing, reprovisioning could take days to move voice and data applications and services, IBM reported.

The IBM/Marist cloud platform will be commercially available in 2014.

At the Marist SDN Innovation Lab, researchers are also testing an IBM “heat map” of network activity, which allows users to predict and prevent congestion in a cloud.