MOVE BUSINESSES MOVING TO THE CLOUD - Just over half of public and private organisations in Ireland have adopted cloud technology, where at least some of the software and services they need to run their businesses is effectively based on a server and delivered over the web. That is according to figures published by Microsoft and Amárach Consulting to coincide with National Cloud Week.

Cathriona Hallahan, managing director of Microsoft Ireland, says that small businesses use cloud computing as a way to scale their businesses and are using it for email and document sharing and to help with mobility of employees on new devices. But cost reduction is the major reason for companies to use the cloud, Ms Hallahan, says as well as giving mobility and flexibility to employees. She says we have seen a lot of progressive thinking in areas like Revenue, with the introduction of the ROS service, where people can go online to see their data. She says she believes the Government has embraced cloud computing well, adding that speed of execution is key. The Microsoft Ireland boss says that devices are driving cloud computing, adding that when people shop online they are using the cloud without even realising it.

On criticism of Windows 8, Ms Hallahan says that the company will launch its ''Code Blue'' project, which will give more flexibility on new devices, new form factors, smaller screens and better battery power. She describes it as ''a build on our vision for Windows 8''. Microsoft are moving to a devices and services company, transforming from a product technology firm, she explains. With the launch of Windows 8, the company has seen its Microsoft Store Applications really speeding up. The company has seen 250 million downloads form its store in recent months.

Ms Hallahan says that Ireland is very unique for the company as it is the only country which has a global operations centre, a data centre, a research and development centre and sales, marketing and services. ''We can see the full value chain from core development of our projects to delivery of our services. That positions Microsoft - and Ireland - as a potential cloud hub for the globe'', she states.


MORNING BRIEFS - Irish building materials group Kingspan, which specialises in environmentally friendly and low energy building products such as insulation panels, has reported a 10% rise in sales to €520m over the first four months of the year. In an interim management statement to the stock exchange, Kingspan reports pretty difficult trading conditions across Europe. In Ireland, though, it says there are some signs of improvement in commercial construction albeit off a very low base. The US and Middle East seem to be the stand out markets for Kingspan at the moment.

*** Drug wholesale and healthcare services company United Drug has topped €1 billion in revenue for the past six months with an 8% increase in pre-tax profit to €18m compared to the same period a year ago. The company said it has benefited from a series of acquisitions. The Irish company said its international expansion in recent years now means it generates 34% of its profit in the US followed by the UK and continental Europe.

*** Kerry Co-op members are in line for a windfall of €270m worth of shares in Kerry Group Next month. The co-op members are to benefit from a transfer of shares in the co-op to the publicly quoted company. It is the latest in a series of such share exchanges which stretch back to the original formation of Kerry Group by the co-op in 1986.

*** A brief trading statement by fruit company Fyffes said it expects its full year earnings to be in line with previous expectations.