Cloud Computing for Enterprise


Cloud Computing – Relevance to Enterprise

(Author note: This paper published here anonymously)

Cloud computing is the future generation computing. It is a relatively new concept in computing field which consists of three main entities such as software, hardware and the network (internet). The collective natures of all these entities are known as the cloud computing. This emerging cloud computing model is gaining quick attention as an alternative to a traditional Information Technology (IT) mainly for cost cutting reason.

This is especially true in education world whereby in many parts of the world the government are tightening the funds in this difficult time. In this paper, we analyse cloud computing deployment and examines its application and adoption in tertiary education sector. We examine some considerations and the reasons for education sector adopting cloud computing. Through case study we also analyse the benefits as well as its impact.

In general, education sector has to be very dynamic in technology services for students with diverse profile from full time student to part time busy working adult. Education institutes are also facing many challenges such as maintain vast IT infrastructure with stringent budgets and retaining experience information technology experts. The proposed cloud computing as an ideal solution to these challenges that also drives towards green IT initiative.

Cloud computing is internet based computing which shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand such as a public utility [60]. The name cloud computing derives from the common representation in technical architectural diagrams of internet network resources as a “cloud.” Forrester defines “cloud computing” as: A pool of abstracted, highly scalable, and managed compute infrastructure capable of hosting end customer applications and billed by consumption. Forrester Research, May 2008. Forrester (2008) [46].

Key defining characteristics of the cloud is the virtual infrastructure, invisible from end users and can be located anywhere in the globe and no need for client end installations or any special hardware. In the cloud one has access to necessary infrastructure without the usual burdens of ownership, administration, maintenance and operation of hardware and software are it is taking care of by the cloud provider.

Providing infrastructure or software as a service is not a new computing model. This computing model or concept has been around since 1990, the companies that providing this service is called Application Service Providers (ASP). They provide businesses with software programs as a service via the medium of the internet. However this idea didn’t take off due to limited bandwidth and also partly due the internet technology hasn’t been matured, the bandwidth cost is not cheap, the speed considered still slow and reliability factors.

Now with the more matured technology and advanced network and hardware pieces plus many providers providing competitive price and features, it is the time for education business to assess and look at their typical MIS managed IT infrastructure and consider deploying the cloud computing. Considering all the features and pay-as-you-use options, many education institutions can hardly resist not to deploy cloud computing. Furthermore these education institutions should supposedly providing students with advanced knowledge which students, lectures and researcher can take advantage of.

In a brief details, cloud computing is the collection of scalable and virtualized resources that is capable of hosting applications and providing required services to the customers and able to charge as per the uses such as utility. The main goal of cloud computing is to provide IT services with shared infrastructure and the assemblage of many systems. In cloud computing every facility is provided in terms of service. It provides infrastructure as a service, software as a service, platform as a service, network as a service, and data storage as a service. The main philosophy of cloud computing is to provide every required things as a service [50].

  1. LITERATURE REVIEW

There are many levels of the cloud computing offerings and every player has their own diverse services. Among the big cloud players are namely: IBM, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, SalesForce.com and Sun etc, although listing all of them is beyond the scope of this document. We discuss high level classifications of cloud computing as follow: Softwar-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (PaaS). This will give an idea of the different types of solutions has been offered in the cloud but their scopes are not always clearly defined and they are not mutually exclusive [49].

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): One obvious and early example of the potential of cloud computing is online emails such as AOL, Google, Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft are among the companies which offered mostly free online email applications and remote access of any computer in the Internet including file transfer . On the other hand mint.com, WebEx and salesforce.com provides personal finance, web conference and sales lead generating application with marginal cost [49].

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): It is the technique of delivering computing platform and software over the Internet. It gives programmers and IT professionals the resources for developing and deploying applications with no extra cost and complexity of managing own hardware and software on site. Major players in this arena’s namely are: Google’s App Engine, the Yahoo Developer Network and Microsoft’s Azure Web Services [49].

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): Often refer to as “everything-as-a-service” basically represents full virtual infrastructure as a service over the Internet. The aim of these offerings is to replace a company’s entire server room and network through virtualization technology. This service helps organization to cut costs and improve flexibility. This can be useful to large organizations even who is seeking to improve their profit margins as well as SME companies who have difficulty affording the onetime large upfront investment and service costs associated with operating their own servers and

networks. Major players are includes Amazon, Rackspace, Savvis, HP, IBM, Sun and Google [49].

Technologies which enabler of today’s cloud computing are software-as-a-service, inexpensive storage, CPU power, client broadband, commercial virtualisation, power of internet programming tools including HTML,CSS, AJAX, Java etc, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), evidence of large cloud computing initiative by big company’s like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and others have built large architectures to support their applications and taught the rest of the world how to do massively scalable architectures to support compute, storage, and application services [49] [57].

Other common cloud computing classifications include:

Public cloud: An IT capability as a service that providers offer to consumers via the public Internet. When a cloud is made available in a “pay as you go” manner to the public, we call it a Public Cloud. Such examples of public computing are Amazon’s Web Services, Google’s App-Engine, and Microsoft’s Azure [2].

Private cloud: An IT capability as a service that providers offer to a select group of customers. Term Private Cloud refers to internal data center of a business which services are not made available to the public [2].

Internal cloud: An IT capability as a service that an IT organization to its own business (subset of private cloud) [2].

External cloud: An IT capability as a service offered to a business that is not hosted by its own IT organization [2].

Hybrid cloud: IT capabilities that are spread between internal and external clouds [2].

There is a global recession and enterprises around the globe need to do more with less than ever before. Enterprise needs to preserve capital and increase capital in current markets is a challenges thus there is a need to reduce the capital expenditure and moreover, enterprises require to react quickly to the market condition with improved flexibility and cloud computing maybe the answer to all these challenges.

It is clear why from start-up to medium size company might be attracted to the cloud computing model. Equipment is very costly to purchase and deploy it and Return Of Investment (ROI) might only be seen over a period of years. Using someone else’s infrastructure as “pay per use” basis transformed fixed cost into a variable cost based on actual consumption thus reducing initial investment risk [2].

Cloud computing is still in an early adaption stage for enterprise. This paper demonstrates in-depth analysis of cloud computing in a structured high level overview and provides cloud computing relevance to educational organization including trend and security issues.

Innovative trends of cloud computing

Cloud computing has experienced rapid growth in recent years Amazon, clams 300,000 developers working with its “Elastic Computer Cloud” (EC2), “Simple Storage Solutions” (S3), Amazon Simple DB another web services since 2002 and Google-Apps claims to be signing up 3,000 businesses each day, offering cloud solutions in partnership with SalesForce.com and IBM [2] and many other multinational company are in the race. So we can be quite certain that cloud will improve productivity, services offering as well as open a new era for education institutes.

Follow-the-sun approach: Placing the resources remotely, schools can enjoy greater productivity and efficiency by allowing students / stuffs around the globe to collaborate on research project and retrieve study materials. . For instance, school with campuses in various countries as when research staffs in the US goes home for the day working and Asia can seamlessly pick up where the other team left off.

Follow-the-moon approach: In cloud computing the actual storage and computation of data can move to locations that require the least energy usage. High-end machines which generate significant amounts of heat and require vast amounts of energy to keep hardware cool. Having migrated to data center where it is currently night means reduced energy consumption equivalent to save money for schools.

Follow-the-law: In cloud computing ease of transferring data online allows workloads to be located where the regulatory and legal landscape is best suited for the task at hand.

Policy Considerations:

Internet Coverage: High speed Internet connection is essential for cloud computing as Internet access provides the link between cloud computing services and their client. Large schools are entering into cloud computing to lower their operational costs and bring up the productivity and companies without access to quality Internet connections will be at a competitive disadvantage.

Liability Rules: Online education services are also prone to problematic third party contents and liability issue for mischief use and 1996 Telecommunications Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act contain important ruling for ensuring that existing statutory protections for online service providers are applied and maintained equally for cloud computing services and it is essential for the future health of the industry. [2]

User confidence: Cloud computing core business is depended on storage of third parties data. Therefore, the cloud computing must achieve high levels of privacy and security. The infrastructure must be designed in such a way that users data are protected by hackers and same time discourage improper surveillance by foreign and domestic authorities

Interoperability: Continuous innovation and competition are vital to the success of cloud computing in education sector. It is crucial to allow interoperability with new proliferation of applications and services. As cloud computing evolves, policy maker must guard against lock-in client and preserved customer freedom for selection cloud vender.

Cloud Future:

“By 2011, early technology adopters will forgo capital expenditures and instead purchase 40% of their IT infrastructure as a service. Cloud Computing will take off, thus untying

applications from specific infrastructure. by Gartner Highlights Key Predictions for IT Organizations and Users in 2008 . [47] Going into 2010 and beyond, virtualization and cloud computing will continue to drive and open up new and exciting revenue opportunities for service providers with all regional and global capabilities. Education industry has been seen using business application ridding the cloud. This year will be all about moving enterprises to the cloud. There are the trends driving it.

Commodity cloud price slashing continues:

Amazon EC2 cut prices up to 35 percent in November last year. A small standard Linux-based instance went from US$0.10 to US$0.08 cents an hour. That same month, Google cut its Picasa photo storage pricing from US$20 to US$5 for a year. Cloud-based apps are on a similar trajectory. Microsoft’s business productivity online suites, which include the SaaS versions of exchange, went from US$15 a month per user to US$10. Anchoring pricing is Google’s Apps Premiere edition at US$50 per year. Cloud pricing is getting so low it’s ludicrous and more players in the market will continue drive this factors. Cloud providers increasingly offering enterprise calibre SLAs such as 99.0 to 9.999 percent uptimes and continues improving service value [47]

New technologies will improve cloud use and performance:

Broadband Internet speed and quality are improving and same time wide area network (WAN) optimization technology are also peg with such trends. Riverbed Technology Inc., a company that makes WAN optimisation technology and has managed to post doubt-digit growth rates during the recession is making the core services provided by its hardware appliances into a virtual system for use in the cloud. The trend will be for third parties to increasingly focus on adaption data centre technologies to cloud environments including tools to help reduce the cost of “on-boarding” or moving applications into the cloud [47].

Open standards for cloud computing:

In April 2009, the Distributed Management Task force (DMTF) announced its ” Open Cloud Standards Incubator.” DMTF is working on is the lack of standards that enable interoperability between private clouds within the enterprise and hosted or public cloud providers. In December 2009, the Enterprise Cloud Buyers Council was created to work on security, reliability and interoperability. Microsoft, Cisco and IBM are part of that group. Open standard for cloud computing will enable its growth further where customers be able to move easily between clouds [47]. Thus it will provide better scope and flexibility for schools to adventure to the federation service.

Politics will drive decisions:

Cloud decisions will be increasingly made with an eye on politics and not by IT managers. For an example, the decision in October 2009 by the Los Angeles City Council to approve a US$7.25 million, five-year deal with Google Apps, replacing the city’s internal Novell GroupWise system and at least setting up an alternative to Microsoft Office is a big deal. It engaged the mayor and city council in a very public debate about cloud services; that’s the real take away for large schools from the decision [47].

The Public-Private Hybrid Cloud:

We will see the use of private clouds by some large companies and the use of public clouds by some smaller companies. Moving some applications such as customer relation management and collaboration among different schools will deliver strong business value while others involving sensitive and proprietary information will remain on premise until security, compliance and governance issues in the cloud are resolved. Rapid integration of cloud-based and on-premise applications will be vital to success [47].

Private Cloud Deployments Will Be Fast and Furious:

The rise of private clouds in the enterprise will be meteoric. Large schools will want to enjoy the benefits of cloud computing multi tenancy and elasticity in their own environment rather than in a public cloud. Education institutes may work with company like IBM, Cisco and VMware as major players in the private cloud market while public cloud providers such as Amazon will offer private versions to compete [47].

HR, Collaboration Will Get Large in the Cloud:

Customer relation management (CRM) will be joined by human capital management and collaboration in driving cloud application adoption. While Salesforce.com and Oracle CRM will continue to drive the adoption of cloud-based CRM, Taleo and Success Factors will drive the adoption of HCM. In addition, Google Apps and Cisco WebEx will drive the adoption of messaging and collaboration apps by midsize and large enterprises and education industry can be part of this blessing offered by these providers [47].

Tier 1 IT Vendors Will Move to Cloud in a Big Way:

Traditional IT infrastructure vendors such as Cisco, Dell, HP and IBM will push into the cloud in a big way now that its viability has been established. Investments will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Pioneering vendors that developed the market will see greater competition as well as expanded opportunities as millions of businesses and consumers adopt cloud computing [51].

Channels Will Provide New Openings for Cloud-based Apps:

Large existing channels will provide new opportunities for cloud-based applications. As the megabrands enter the cloud market, they will bring their huge existing channels with them. Rather than investing millions in building out their own proprietary channels, pioneering brands will leverage business alliances, licensing innovative technology for access to new customers [51].

Expect to See Cloud-based Front Offices:

The killer app of the cloud will be the integrated ecosystem the new front office comprised of cloud-based platforms for connecting best-in-class applications and developing custom applications to deliver cost-effective computing and unprecedented functionality. No one application will dominate; all of the essential applications working together will be the killer app of the cloud [51].

Social Networks Will Become Mainstream in the Enterprise:

Social networking will become mainstream in the enterprise and find its way into the cloud. The widespread use of social networks will further expand from unofficial to HR and marketing, requiring the establishment—and enforcement—of standardized enterprise guidelines [51].

Microsoft Azure Will Become a Major Actor:

Windows Azure will cause a shift in cloud computing due to the vast number of .Net developers (more than six million). Net developers will now finally have the chance to jump into the cloud without having to learn new platforms or tools. The cloud platform race will be a tight one between the Java camp led by Google and Amazon Web Services and the Windows Azure camp [51].

As per above statements; it is certain that the education industry can trust and engage on the cloud computing as all these multi billion dollars company are in the game.

Cloud Constraints and Security Issues

Like any industry, education industry should examine the limitation and security issues with new cloud computing technology poses. Here we have discussed some major cloud computing constrains and security issues for better decision making for adapting cloud to any education institutes. The virtualization technologies is a core technology behind cloud computing infrastructures that pose challenges on enforcing security policy when we have a sense of uncertainty concerning the actual physical location of our resources. As shown IDC report in figure 1 that top most concern is a security for cloud computing. However, virtual machine management consoled prove us with better confined execution environment, brief monitoring capability and fine grained access control on the resources usage [31][4].

Figure: 1: Cloud computing concerns [31]

In the last few years, cloud computing has been growing from hopeful business concept to one of the fastest rising sectors of the IT industry. In the same time more and more organizations are putting information in the cloud, concerns are beginning to rise about safety and security of the cloud computing. [37]

In March 2009, a broad range of companies, both vendors and cloud users, formed the Cloud Security Alliance to create a consensus on the issue of security. “Security is the number one inhibitor to cloud adaption”, said Justin Steinman, a Novel Inc. VP and a member of the Alliance. There are, for instance, legal and technology issues to address, and Steinman envisions these being resolved, in part, through tough SLAs with providers that have “drastic Penalties” if things go wrong. Users can also expert to see technologies that enable cloud providers to meet different security requirements. There may be a push for regulatory changes that take into account cloud services too [48].

 One of the world’s largest technology companies, Google, has invested a lot of money into the cloud space, where it recognises that having a reputation for security is a key determinant of success. “Security is built into the DNA of our products,” says a company spokesperson. “Google practices a defence-in-depth security strategy, by architecting security into our people, process and technologies” [48].

However, according to Datamonitor’s Trifkovic: the cloud is still very much a new frontier with very little in the way of specific standards for security or data privacy. In many ways he says that cloud computing is in a similar position to where the recording industry found itself when it was trying to combat peer-to-peer file sharing with copyright laws created in the age of analogue [48].


Here are some analyses:

Trusting vendor’s security model: Customer (education institutes) need to fully aware the security model which vender provides are according to customer needs and doesn’t conflict with customer own organizations security policy [13].

Auditing and investigation: Timely response to custom request for audit or investigation to specific incident will be an issue as vendor generally supports large customer base. Vendor may not able to participates any request which fall outside of the standard SLA [13].

Integration with existing legacy system: Since most of the organizations still need to depends on their legacy system due to backward compatible application. So there will be

Lots of integration task to integrate Cloud Applications with your Legacy Systems and same time securing the applications as they move around the cloud and legacy systems [13].

Ensuring Compliance in the Cloud: Schools data may not physically located in a specific place in cloud computing, thus international data privacy or export restriction law may apply accordingly. Control and measurement need to impose to ensure compliance with customer published privacy policies and with the privacy and freedom of the data regulation in relevant countries comply [13].

Isolation management: Administrative management control needs to clearly outline between schools and vendor for ownership of administrative tasks in case any distribute arise for any mishaps. But it is difficult task to clearly outline as often they may need to work together to accomplish certain task. Effective third party liability protections are also very critical as the amount of data cloud providers handle makes screening almost impossible [13].

Lack of interoperability among cloud providers: Existing cloud technologies have not been designed according to interoperability to other cloud providers. This causes in an inability to scale through business partnerships across clouds providers. Moreover, it prevents smaller cloud infrastructure providers from entering the cloud provisioning market. This restrains competition and locks customer to a single vendor [13].

Ownership issues: Ownership of the data and cloud system resources may get overlap. It is crucial for both parties to clearly define the ownership of data and other computing resources in case of any legal issue arise. [13]

Quality of service guarantees: The successful conveyance of a broadband deployment framework that promotes high speed, high quality, non-discriminatory networks is perhaps the single most important component to the success of cloud computing. [13]

Segregation and encryption: Since data is typically placed in share environment, data segregation is another major concern needs to address. Authorization, authentication and deployment of strong encryption technique is the way of address data serration issue. [57]

Mainly cloud computing services are delivered via Internet and security of data in the cloud computing provided by vendor form of service level agreements (SLA) to ensure customer on security issues. Those company utilized cloud computing as a service infrastructure; it is critical for them to details examine the security and confidentiality issues for their business critical insensitive applications and data. So far complete guarantee the security of company’s data in the cloud is a challenge, despite cloud provides different services like SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS and each service has their own security issues. Therefore, the SLA has to state different layers of security and their complexity based on the services to make the customer fully aware the security policies that are being offered. This may help some organizations to consider using the cloud services. [57]

  1. METHODOLOGY

The main objective of cloud services is to enable IT commoditisation which in turn allow organisations to utilize on-demand IT services and minimize total cost of ownership, hence we centered our data collections and findings on the following few areas to analyse the adoption of cloud computing in organisations:

  1. Total cost of ownership
  2. Business processes in cloud computing
  3. Quality of services
  4. Risks

Based on a survey from Business Insights [61], cost savings remains the highest priority for enterprises in 2010 with efficiency as the second highest in the list, therefore we believed that organisations are constantly reviewing into these areas to improve their business operations with an acceptable level of risk.

Figure 2: The business priorities driving IT investments in 2010. [61]

Total Cost of Ownership

This area involves an examination on the total cost of ownership of cloud services which is an important factor in a service evaluation. A recent survey [12] has shown that 68% of the respondents claimed that reducing capital costs is one of the key drivers behind cloud computing. Most organisations are concerned about the total cost of ownership of their IT services that are integrated in the business operations especially for start-ups or business expansions. Nevertheless, companies have been continually looking for ways to cut down their expenses on IT services without jeopardising their quality of service. Here, total cost of ownership of IT services is broken down into two categories: hardware and software expenses and operational expenses. E.g., Table 1 shows the pricing comparison of Storage Clouds which are part of the operational expenses for using cloud services.

Table 1: Feature and pricing comparison of Storage Clouds [2].

Based on a case study [19], a cloud provider achieves ten times lower in total cost of ownership by leveraging on server virtualisation and external input/output (I/O) virtualisation in its collocated data centers to reduce server provisioning time on-site support expertise requirements. Fundamentally, adoption of virtualisation in cloud computing has proven to be saved cost in the long term. According to market analyst Butler Group, organizations currently operating 250 dual-core Central Processing Unit (CPU) servers can save £2m over three years based on consolidating servers alone, and the power saving can be as much as £141k a year [30].Table 3 showed a simple calculation of the savings.

Cost

Before virtualization

After virtualization

Cost of Dual-core server

£7,404.00

£10,074.00

Power (rated in Watts)

550

675

Steady state power factor

0.67

0.67

Cost of cooling one server for one year

£385.44

£473.04

Cost of power per KWh

£0.08

£0.08

Cost of power and cooling per year

£160,921

£19,749

Number of servers deployed (example)

250

25

Power saving per year

£141,172

Total cost saving over 3 years (server plus power and cooling)

£2,022,665

Server saving (at next refresh reduced capital cost)

£1,599,150

Table 3: Cost Savings possible through server consolidation [30]

Business Processes in the Cloud

Operational efficiency is another key driver for cloud computing [16] since an organisation will utilise various cloud services in their business processes. The business strategy of an organisation lies in its core business processes and as such careful consideration has to be made before placing a business process in the cloud. It is certain that core business processes are not candidate for public exchange of information on freely accessible platforms, hence there is not real case for making them available across corporate boundaries [20]. This notion would stir up both public and private clouds to enable companies to gain competitive advantage in the market.

Services computing focus on the integration of the cloud services and business processes to enable an organisation to operate efficiently and effectively. Examples of services computing technologies include Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Web Services [17]. This also means that organisations are required to acquire the necessary knowledge and skill in-house to leverage on cloud services to incorporate them into the business process. In the process of integration, cloud computing essentially eliminates the common “in-house” processes which further reduce cost and enhance efficiency in operation.

Quality of Service

Quality of service refers to non-functional properties of a service in operation which are performance oriented such as response time, transaction rate, and availability. Well-publicised incidents of cloud outages include Gmail (one-day outage in October 2008), Amazon S3 (over several hours downtime in July 2008) and FlexiScale (18-hours outage in Oct 2008) [21]. It is a challenging task for cloud service providers to maintain different service levels specified in the SLAs (Service Level Agreements) for different customers. Vice versa, it is also difficult for the customers to measure the quality of service provided especially when they have no knowledge of how a service provider support them [22]. In short, a customer’s perceived quality must be aligned with the service level offered by the service providers. Moreover, QoS requirements cannot be static and may change over time due to continuing changes in business operations and operating environments. There are many investigations for allocation of resources to applications depending on quality of service expectations of users and service contracts established between consumers and providers [23-28].

Risks

While there are many benefits of cloud computing, the risks involved might outweigh its benefits. One of organisations’ most concerned risks is security [30]. Since cloud computing would mean everything-as-a-service (“XaaS”), IT services from infrastructure to software can reside in various physical locations and managed by different service providers. Low-level operational details such as data replication and server configuration are unknown to the users like a black box system. Not only does it give rise to a set of security and privacy issues, it also creates a new set of evaluation of legal issues such as compliance and auditing [29]. Among all the assets, organisations see data has a very sensitive and important element. Other risks include loss of governance, lock-in, compliance, etc.

A survey from security vendor Trend Micro in 2009 found that 89% of the respondents want security to be addressed in the cloud before they are willing to adopt the technology [30]. 61% of the respondents in the survey are willing to adopt cloud computing services until they can be sure that there is no significant security risk [30]. Another survey by RSA Security of IDG shown that more than 30 of the 100 security executives whom are working at companies with investment in cloud computing revealed that there is no security strategy implemented yet [30]. ENISA, supported by a group of subject expert comprising representatives from industries, Academia and Governmental Organisations, has conducted, in the context of Emerging and Future Risk Framework project, a risk assessment on cloud computing business model and technologies [30].

  1. S AND FINDINGS

The following are our analysis and finding which focus on education sectors adoption of cloud computing and how the cloud computing impact the teaching and learning environment.

Increased Collaboration between Students, Lecturers and Peers

There is an undergoing dramatic shift the way the students learn and lecturer teach due to the widespread adoption of email, the internet and hosted applications for creating and sharing documents.

Mostly students complete their project using desktop software and submit them as email attachment or hard copy documents. But the new technologies for creating documents and collaborating online, lecturers are transforming how they work with students, and students are finding new ways to work with peers. This results the new approach of learning which is through collaboration and learning that redefines the possibilities for lecturer and student interactions. Furthermore students will get more engaged in learning.

Whats the connection with cloud computing is the increase reliance on Software as a Service (SaaS) hosted services, which improved the collaboration among students and lecturers and with peers. The SaaS is taking full advantage of connectivity like email and the internet which is part of emerging Web 2.0 trend, and this is transforming the teaching and learning environment especially in tertiary education.

In the past university tends to rely on expensive desktop based software and classroom meeting, with SaaS students and lectures are able to work together online using hosted productivity software and real time collaboration solution on the web. Furthermore Web 2.0 helps students and lectures to collaborate in small and large group to review and analyses research papers and other document with convenience.

These are the trends that we obverse have been emerging in the education environment.

Funding for research

Cloud computing technology provides the necessary platforms needed for research and is rapidly increasing in popularity. Companies such as Google and IBM are increasingly funding cloud computing infrastructure for research purposes this making it important for students and lectures to gain the necessary skills to work with cloud-based resources.

For example GoogleApps (education edition) platform provides The University of Westminster (UOW),a whole campus with free email, messaging, and shared calendars with no advertising for students or staff. Each student is given 7.3GB of disk space of capacity.

Besides providing free email, the platform also provides a suit of productivity tools such as word processor, spreadsheet as well as presentation plus the functionality that supports collaboration. This is very useful for student and lecturers to share document remotely especially for students working on group based assignments.

Cost reduction

Beside all the benefits that cloud computing provides including providing a good

learning environment for student and lecturers, there were also economic reasons behind the decision to adopt cloud computing technology.

For example the cost of using Google mail was literally zero. This provides the education instituion with lots of saving and reduction in cost in terms of system installation, ongoing maintenance, upgrades of software, staff costs, software licenses, servers hardware, disk storage, etc.

Economics and the convenience of the way computing-related services are delivered are among the main reasons or drivers of cloud computing. In education business where funding from government sometimes can be very difficult in this tough economic time, many will see a huge potential of the technology in reducing the cost of IT.

Furthermore to organizations this will mean freeing them from the expense and hassle of having to install and maintain applications locally.

Lastly a great proportion of the costs of running an IT infrastructure come from electricity consumption. IT hardware such as PCs, servers, switches, backup drives, etc and UPS are some examples.

Cloud computing will reduce the expenditure in the utility area and also reduce labor-related costs such as the need for less technicians or administrator to maintain the system. The following provides a typical university with MIS department that provides IT infrastructure that caters for the needs of students, lecturers and admin staff as illustrated below.

The MIS department provides:

  • Students and staff with software (e.g., email accounts, operating systems, productivity applications, malware detectors and cleaners, etc.) and hardware (e.g., PCs, Servers, etc.);
  • Lecturers with the required special software and hardware to run experiments that are likely to involve a great deal of processing and computation;
  • Admin staff to carry out their administration duties such as communication, marketing, accounting duties.

Figure 2: Typical MIS Infrastructure

Almost all the above infrastructure services can be migrated to cloud computing as depicted in the diagram below. For example, students, administrative staff and lecturers can be made to use the services of providers of SaaS and IaaS clouds. These services will be ideally accessed through thin clients. Any software launched by these groups of people

resides on the servers of the SaaS cloud provider and is accessed online. Any requirement for disk space or additional hardware (e.g., a virtual PC or a virtual Server) is executed immediately online by cloud service provider.

Figure 3: Cloud Infrastructure

Security

Security factor is like double edges sword. In the case study of UOW, they are no longer facing the spam issue which is associated with students’ personal email accounts. Prior to this, the university faced the problem with students that forward their university email to their personal email address which the servers treat the email as spam. In many occasions the email being forwarded were blocked by spam tools which meant any urgent email from university were not getting to through to the students. With the adoption of cloud computing services from GoogleApp this no longer an issue.

Despite the fact that Google Apps for Education is free, in the case of UOW, the university must ensure that its policy guidelines must be followed when it rolled it Google Apps. For example, University records and Intellectual Property (IP) policy required that all calendar, teaching, research, legal and employment information be maintained on University-owned systems. Following the policy and guidelines, UOW maintains that staff Google mail is provided for the purposes of collaborating with colleagues or students in the Google environment. However, Microsoft Exchange/Microsoft Outlook (the current university’s email system) remains the official staff email system.

Beside the above consideration, there are also valid security and privacy concerns.

Recently (International Data Corporation (IDC) just published a survey from chief information officers and IT executives, they rated that security as their main cloud computing concern and almost 75% of survey respondents mentioned that they were worried about security. On the other hand, the recently the Electronic

Privacy Information Center (EPI – a not-for-profit organization), has filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the security standards of Google’s cloud computing offering. EPI arguing that Google does not encrypt information held on its servers. Moreover, various governments agencies such as those in the European Union (EU), have privacy regulations that prohibit the transmission of some types of personal data outside the EU. This prompted an issue that companies such as Amazon and others to develop offerings using storage facilities located in the EU. Thus the decision was made by the university which was concerned about the legal implications of transferring the safe keep of their data to a third party.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

Cloud computing is not a revolutionary new idea; instead it is an evolutionary concept which brings together strands from various existing technologies to offer a useful new IT provisioning tool. However, it is absolutely vital that resiliency is at the heart of the cloud computing infrastructure and that investment is made in availability and continuity. Due diligence in this area is important. If the wrong cloud supplier is chosen then IT service continuity will be at risk. Resiliency truly is the key to success in this area.

In this paper we have explained how educational institutions (in the case study of University of Westminster (UOW) embraced and already taking advantage of the benefits which this technology is bringing. Besides cost factors, technology advancement and benefits to its students and researcher that the case study presented, the paper also examined security factors in more detail. This paper also argued that education institution will likely to deploy cloud computing because most of them are suffering from the global economic crisis. Similar to any other IT technologies, cloud computing also without any problems, there are concerns like security, reliability and portability. In the case study we mentioned that UOW still maintaining the old email system besides the new email system from Google.

Cloud computing is now emerging from its early adopter stage and many of the difficult implementation lessons have been learned. The advantages are clear, with the main ones being resiliency, efficiency, scalability, flexibility and easier outsourcing. Cloud computing genuinely does have the potential to radically change the way organizations purchase, manage and provide computing resources to their employees.

Organizations should now be evaluating how and where they can benefit from transferring systems and applications over to a cloud computing environment. Making the most of cloud computing opportunity will enable your IT systems to be more efficient and cost effective; in turn helping to make your business more profitable.

The time to gain competitive advantage from cloud computing is now. Now is the time to establish where your opportunities may lie [3].

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About Robiul

Robiul has 15 years of continuous successful career experience in ICT with extensive background in System Engineering, IT infrastructure design, operations and service delivery, managing IT projects / MIS functions for local and multi-national companies with in-depth knowledge of multiple operating systems as well as construct / manage small to medium size Data Center. Proven ability to design and implement medium to semi-large scale LAN/WAN/WLAN and system infrastructures. Academic qualification: Master of Science in Information Systems. Professional certifications are: MCSE, CCNA, ITIL and FoundStone Security Professional, VCP, NetAPP, CISSP etc.
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