Cloud Computing in Higher Education _ Britto _ Library Student Journal

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<ul><li><p>06/08/2013 Cloud Computing in Higher Education | Britto | Library Student Journal</p><p>www.librarystudentjournal.org/index.php/lsj/article/view/289/321 1/11</p><p>OPEN JOURNAL</p><p>SYSTEMS</p><p>Journal Help</p><p>USER</p><p>Username</p><p>Password</p><p> Remember me</p><p>Login</p><p>JOURNAL</p><p>CONTENT</p><p>Search</p><p>All</p><p>Search</p><p>Browse</p><p>By Issue</p><p>By Author</p><p>By Title</p><p>FONT S IZ E</p><p>INFORM ATION</p><p>For Readers</p><p>For Authors</p><p>For Librar ians</p><p>HOME ABOUT LOGIN REGISTER SEARCH CURRENT ARCHIVES</p><p>ANNOUNCEMENTS BLOG LIS-STUDENT-LIST SUBMIT</p><p>Home &gt; 2012 &gt; Britto</p><p>Cloud Computing in Higher Education</p><p>Marwin Britto</p><p>University of WisconsinMilwaukee</p><p>Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States</p><p>Library Student Journal,</p><p>January 2012</p><p>A bstr a ct</p><p>With significant budget cuts in higher education coupled with growing demand for information technology (IT) services,</p><p>institutions are quickly considering and adopting cloud computing strategies to meet their needs. Although there are still</p><p>challenges with the cloud computing model, the potential benefits appear to greatly outweigh the risks. These changes also</p><p>necessitate a new type of IT leadership and IT workforce. As this model matures and the risks are mitigated, it is expected</p><p>that greater numbers of institutions will implement and scale cloud computing services more extensively as an alternative to</p><p>current IT practices and services. This paper describes the reasons for the rise of cloud computing in higher education, its</p><p>evolving definition and models, examples of cloud computing in higher education today and its potential in the future.</p><p>In tr odu ct ion</p><p>Institutions of higher education, in the United States and globally, are in the midst of historic times. In the U.S., the deep</p><p>recession and depleted budget reserves have contributed to a diminishing tax base resulting in drastic budget cuts to state-</p><p>funded and state-assisted universities and colleges. Endowments at private and public institutions of higher education in the</p><p>U.S., typically relied on as a source of relief during financially troubling times, have experienced losses not seen since the</p><p>Great Depression (Lewin, 2010). To backfill the deficit and in the climate of unprecedented budget cuts, institutions of higher</p><p>education are invoking mass layoffs, steep tuition hikes, department closures, mandatory furloughs, and early retirements;</p><p>even the threat of closures of university and college systems looms, as evidenced by events in July 2011 that threatened to</p><p>shutter the entire Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (Budig, 2011). In 2011, it was reported that 43 states in</p><p>the U.S. had imposed funding cuts to higher education in the coming budget cycle (Johnson et al., 2011). Consequently, 2011</p><p>fiscal budgets for U.S. universities and colleges appear much worse than the previous biennial, and sadly, it seems that there</p><p>is no promise of reprieve in the foreseeable future.</p><p>To address their financial shortfall during this economic downtown, institutions of higher education have resorted to a variety</p><p>of cost-cutting measures, including significant cuts to information technology (IT) budgets. For example, for the 2009-2010</p><p>academic year, 50 % of IT leaders at universities and colleges in the U.S. reported decreased funding in their IT budgets over</p><p>the previous year (Green, 2009). To compound the problem, the purchasing power of these IT dollars has decreased; IT costs</p><p>have increased at a faster rate than the rate of inflation (Golden, 2009).</p><p>IT areas are perceived as significant cost centers, and for many administrators, despite the institutions reliance on</p><p>technology in every aspect of its operation, it is difficult to accurately calculate the return-on-investment (ROI) from the</p><p>cost of information technology; similarly, it is challenging to attribute the benefits of technology directly to the institutions</p><p> international peer reviewed </p><p>open access</p></li><li><p>06/08/2013 Cloud Computing in Higher Education | Britto | Library Student Journal</p><p>www.librarystudentjournal.org/index.php/lsj/article/view/289/321 2/11</p><p>vision, mission and goals. This lack of a transparent ROI has contributed to bigger cuts in the IT budgets than many other</p><p>areas on campus. The Campus Computing Project (Green, 2010), which annually surveys IT leaders at institutions of higher</p><p>education in the U.S. regarding critical issues in IT, reported that 42 % of colleges and universities experienced a budget cut</p><p>in their IT centralized services for the 2010-2011 academic year. (As indicated earlier, 50 % had already taken cuts to their </p><p>budgets the previous year.) Yet, in sharp contrast to this decrease in availability funding for IT services and support, the</p><p>demand and expectations for IT services and resources on college and university campuses from students, staff and faculty</p><p>are at an all-time high. These increasing expectations have been ushered in largely by the growth of a new breed of incoming</p><p>students.</p><p>These students, known as digital natives (Prensky, 2001), the Net Generation, Generation Y, or even Millennials, have not</p><p>known a world without the Internet (Oblinger &amp; Oblinger, 2005). Through programs such as Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and</p><p>Flickr, students already are well versed and frequent consumers of cloud-based technologies (Ercan, 2010). Accordingly, they</p><p>expect to have 24/7 access to digital technologies in their educational environment, including cloud technologies which</p><p>support social media. In addition, research has demonstrated that cloud-based solutions can be very effective in supporting</p><p>collaborative and cooperative learning as well as other socially oriented theories of teaching and learning (Thorsteinsson et</p><p>al., 2010). With the opportunity to facilitate these student needs, coupled with the cost-savings, administrators are asking </p><p>leaders to provision the necessary training, support and resources to implement and support these cloud-based strategies.</p><p>The age of doing more with less has been described as the new normal in higher education (Duncan, 2010; Durso, 2011;</p><p>Sharma, 2011). With escalating expectations for IT resources and services yet diminished funding, doing more with less has</p><p>been on the radar in IT for some time (Green, 2003). For example, to address the topic of doing more with less, in 2004</p><p>EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association concerned with information technology in higher education, assembled and interviewed an</p><p>expert panel of eight CIOs and VPs of IT at higher education institutions in the U.S. and published their results in the article,</p><p>Doing More with Less: Obstacle or Opportunity for IT? (Goldstein et al., 2004). It is interesting to note that cloud-</p><p>computing was not seen as a viable strategy or solution at the time. A review of current IT conference programs (e.g.</p><p>EDUCAUSE, Campus Technology), IT listservs, and journals in IT (e.g. CIO, Journal of Information Technology, Campus</p><p>Technology, Journal of Information Technology in Education) demonstrated the persistence of this theme of doing more with</p><p>less.</p><p>In the past few years the concept of cloud computing has emerged as a viable and promising solution to the challenges</p><p>associated with shrinking IT budgets and escalating IT needs. Journals (e.g. Cloud Computing Journal), conferences (e.g.</p><p>Cloud Computing Expo), listservs, consulting firms, and service providers dedicated to cloud computing services and</p><p>strategies have sprung up virtually overnight; this increasing exposure and media attention and the promise to address IT</p><p>budget shortfalls together have created a tremendous buzz and further escalated discussions, interest and evolution in this</p><p>area. EDUCAUSE has created a dedicated cloud computing area on its website, which includes sections on related publications,</p><p>presentations, podcasts, blogs, newsfeeds, and information on the basics of cloud computing, decision-making and</p><p>implementation (EDUCAUSE, 2011b).</p><p>Despite this proliferation of cloud computing resources and interest in such resources, for some IT leaders and institutional</p><p>administrators, the jury is still out. Some claim there is too much hype and not enough substance nor adequate research and</p><p>convincing case studies to fully commit resources and funding to move in this direction; others are concerned about the</p><p>security and data protection risks (Mircea &amp; Andreescu, 2010). In addition, a commitment to this model fundamentally and</p><p>radically changes the modus operandi of IT groups on college and university campuses, their power and influence, and their</p><p>function and perception of value within the institution, which consequently would have serious implications for personnel and</p><p>allocation of resources in these areas. There are other worthy concerns which warrant greater examination of the</p><p>implications of cloud computing in higher education; these concerns are the focus of this paper.</p><p>This paper will provide an overview of cloud computing in higher education. The intent is to first familiarize those unfamiliar</p><p>with the concept with its definitions, its defining characteristics, its service and deployment models and examples of</p><p>institutions currently employing this model. These initial areas regarding cloud computing are provided as background</p><p>information and context to then help frame discussions. These discussions include its potential as a sourcing alternative, its</p><p>current implications, examples in higher education, and the changing IT leadership and IT workforce needed to successfully</p><p>manage this concept. Lastly, the final section offers a reflection on the future implications and role of cloud computing in</p><p>higher education.</p><p>Defin in g Clou d Com pu tin g</p><p>In early 2009, McKinsey &amp; Company reported that there were 22 distinct definitions of cloud computing in existence. The</p><p>surge of interest in cloud computing in the last two years has undoubtedly increased this list. In addition, one of the</p><p>challenges is the evolving and expanding nature of the cloud computing concept, which will propagate new definitions over</p><p>time and make it difficult to pinpoint a single definition. McKinsey &amp; Company (2009) define cloud computing as hardware-</p><p>based services offering computing, network, and storage capacity where the management of hardware is highly abstracted</p><p>from the buyers, buyers incur variable infrastructure costs, and infrastructure capacity is highly elastic. Any reference </p></li><li><p>06/08/2013 Cloud Computing in Higher Education | Britto | Library Student Journal</p><p>www.librarystudentjournal.org/index.php/lsj/article/view/289/321 3/11</p><p>the Internet, a basic premise of cloud computing, is curiously missing. However, the term network does infer a connection</p><p>and the avoidance of the word Internet might have been intentionally chosen due to private clouds. Gartner Research takes</p><p>a broader approach, defining cloud computing as an alternative delivery and acquisition model for IT-related services and</p><p>...a style of computing where massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered 'as a service' to external customers</p><p>using Internet technologies (Plummer et al., 2008, p. 3). This definition is quite general and avoids the specific service model</p><p>types which are important attributes of this concept. CDW-G, a technology solutions provider for government agencies and</p><p>higher education institutions, offers a simple yet thorough definition of cloud computing as a model for enabling convenient,</p><p>on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications and</p><p>services) that can be rapidly provisioned (2011, p. 1).</p><p>It appears that CDW-G adapted this definition from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST, under the</p><p>U.S. Department of Commerce, defines and describes cloud computing as a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-</p><p>demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications,</p><p>and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction</p><p>(Mell &amp; Grance, 2011, p. 2). This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three</p><p>service models, and four deployment models (Mell &amp; Grance, 2011). Despite varying definitions of the term cloud computing,</p><p>there appears to be consistency and general consensus in the literature on the general characteristics, service models and</p><p>deployment models described by NIST. Since these characteristics and models are useful to understand the context within</p><p>higher education, they are described briefly in the next three sections.</p><p>Fiv e Essen tia l Ch a r a cter ist ics of Clou d Com pu tin g</p><p>The following five characteristics, as defined by NIST, are considered inherent in cloud computing services (Mell &amp; Grance,</p><p>2011): </p><p>On-Demand Self-Service: Customers can automatically provision computing capabilities and resources on their own when</p><p>needed without necessitating any human intervention.</p><p>Broad Network Access: Access and capabilities are available over the network through standard devices, such as cell</p><p>phones, laptops, PDAs, etc.</p><p>Resource Pooling: Resources such as network bandwidth, virtual machines, memory, processing power, storage</p><p>capacity, etc. are pooled together to serve multiple customers using a multi-tenant model. That is, virtual and physical</p><p>resources are dynamically assigned and reassigned based on need and customers demands.</p><p>Rapid Elasticity: Depending on demand, resources and capabilities can be quickly and automatically deployed and scaled</p><p>at any quantity and at any time.</p><p>Measured Service: Customer usage of the vendors resources and services are automatically monitored, controlled and</p><p>reported offering a high level of transparency for the customer and vendor.</p><p>It is interesting to note that some vendors claim cloud computing as a service, but fail to include one or more of the</p><p>characteristics listed above. For example, cloud computing vendors which fail to provide transparency (e.g. a detailed report</p><p>of consumption per service) of your services consumed are not offering true cloud computing services.</p><p>Ser v ice Models</p><p>NIST (Mell &amp; Grance, 2011) also describes three service models:</p><p>Cloud Software as a Service;</p><p>Cloud Platform as a Service; and</p><p>Cloud Infrastructure as a Service.</p><p>The differentiators among these three service models are the nature of the service and the level of customer-vendor control</p><p>and engagement. Furthermore, it should be noted that these models are not mutually exclusive; organizations can and do</p><p>employ different cloud service models on varying scales for different departments within the organization based on specific</p><p>needs.</p><p>Cloud software as a service (SaaS): The vendor provides, manages and controls the underlying cloud infrastructure, including</p><p>individual applications, network, storage, servers, operating systems, etc. The customer is able to fully access the vendors</p><p>applications in the cloud via a variety of devices (e.g. cell phone, laptop, PDA). SaaS examples include MyErp.com,</p><p>Salesforce.com and Workday.com....</p></li></ul>