Preparing For Lift Off With Cloud 2

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Cloud 2 is a Bradford-based cloud computing and intranet tech company. In what appears to be great timing, they have also decided to enter a team into this year’s NASA Space Apps hackathon, which is being held at C4DI. Graham, Dan and Sarah will be heading over to Hull Saturday 20th October to take part in the challenge.

We are very happy to have them on board as one of our first local supporters and are looking forward to what innovations they bring to the event. We caught up with Graham and Dan from the team to see what makes their company tick and what they are looking forward to at this year’s challenge.

Can you tell us a bit about Cloud 2?

Graham: When we started the company, the primary goal was to ensure that intranet deployments built on SharePoint were a success because loads were failing. We were the first company to essentially have an intranet-in-a-box, where [the intranet] is 80% pre-configured and then we work with the client on the remaining 20%.

Our motto was ‘Low code or no code’. I.e. yes, we do development on the product itself, but really it is all about the configuration. We deliver a working intranet, populated with content within eight weeks as opposed to one to two years for a typical intranet.

That has always been the backbone of the company and we have evolved beyond that, but it is still a large part of what we do. We’ve morphed into the Cloud so we’re working with Office 365 and all that that brings to the table.

Cloud 2 has also been working with business intelligence and analytics for about five years, which means that they are branching into a more corporate customer base, but their primary customer base is still the NHS.

Have you always been in Bradford?

G: Yes, it was founded there by our directors Simon and Taran. We’ve been in the current building about six/seven years. Before that we were in shared offices. Now we are actually in the process of moving offices from central Bradford to a business park on the outskirts. That’s happening this coming week. It’s quite good timing with the 10th anniversary. Hopefully this sets us up for the next decade.

We’ve now morphed into the Cloud so we’re working with what Office 365 brings to the table.”

The company knew about Space Apps from last year but after the recent email came through they decided now was the time to get involved.

What made you want to get involved in the NASA hackathon?

Dan: Part of the reason is because we like to support the local community - including C4DI - and engage in networking and local development skills. It’s also a chance to do something a little bit different to what we normally do. We’ll benefit from it because we’re getting exposed to new ideas and potentially new ways of doing things, that we can then bring back in-house and help ourselves.

G: I do have a technical background, but Dan is the ‘proper developer’. I know that sounds a bit silly, but basically rather than just doing lightweight configuration, he can actually build applications. The biggest development type stuff I do these days is Excel spreadsheets.

Another reason is it’s just interesting and I like NASA and space, so what’s not to love?

Any idea of what you might do for the challenge?

G: I’m guessing it depends on what the topics are, but I would like to tie it back to Office 365 and Power Apps/Flow/Azure and make it totally cloud-based. So, we’re using the tech that we specialise in. For example, Power Apps run on a phone, which uses Flow to push data to an Azure database. That’s what our strengths are so it would be nice to play to that.

“We’re getting exposed to new ideas and potentially new ways of doing things”

What is your favourite innovation/development in your world in recent times?

G: The exciting thing for me and the team, would be how we started from ground zero on our intranet build. That has now allowed us to build on ten years of evolution and incorporate new things into it. It has been tough but, ultimately, the output is far more polished and user-friendly. That’s brought the team together, because it has given us one solid thing to work on. The past few years haven’t been as exciting in terms of innovation, but this is brand new technology we are working with, so it’s more exciting.

How about stuff in the wider tech world that you think is exciting?

D: What’s happening with bots and machine learning. Things where you’ve got an app that tells you how much holiday you have left and manages that. All that kind of stuff.

Also, everything moving away from the keyboard/mouse traditional approach: voice, cognitive services, that kind of thing. All this smart speaker, automation stuff is coming along, which is changing the human to computer interface. So, all that is on the radar from a corporate point of view.

Thanks guys!

If you want to follow in Cloud 2’s footsteps and become a supporter of this great event simply sign up a team to compete in Hull’s NASA Space Apps Challenge 2018. It’s a fun weekend, a great opportunity for networking and innovation and there’s pizza included! To get tickets and more information about the event go here.

By Tim Goodfellow