Cloud Computing’s Future and What It Could Mean for Colleges and Universities

A while back a PC Magazine wrote What Does Cloud Computing Mean for You?, and it is definitely worth a second look.

Some of the important takeaways from the piece are about how it will effect not just corporate users but also end users.   In fact I think it’s safe to say that we probably are doing more with cloud computing today than most of us even realize.

“The most important single characteristic of a cloud is abstraction of the hardware from the service,” says John Willis, a noted cloud-computing expert and blogger, explaining that the location of the servers is not as important as easy access to the data. “However you define it, I think cloud technology will have a footprint in every business that does IT within the next five years.”
Internet's UniverseThe realistic expectations that we’re given about data security, encryption, and patching of systems is addressed nicely.  I’ve always stood by the notion that in a server farm environment where you have some of the best network and system administrators, managing a large number of systems is much more secure, more economical, and less likely to experience downtime than a company with its own system administrator trying to manage a few systems.  This one individual doesn’t have the advantage of patching thousands of systems or the experience of doing it thousands of times to really be specialized in that field.  Most likely, in a small company your system administrator is also your network administrator, tech support, and could be handling a number of other responsibilities.  The cloud allows for specialized skills and services at scalable pricing.

Finally the article closes with a reality check that although cloud computing is the future, we aren’t there yet. It cautions that “it’s almost experimental, rather than a reliable and trusted computing paradigm.”  Even in an experimental environment cloud computing offers not only unlimited possibilities but cost saving and lots of value now even with a track record that isn’t 100%.  Not every system in an organization is mission critical, and with the cost savings and less resources required to get into the clouds this experimental environment still holds a lot of promise today.  A campus’ interactive map just happens to be one example of something that isn’t mission critical but could easily live in the clouds.
Photo Credit: Internet’s universe… by CLUC

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One comment

  • jorge August 22, 2011  

    Well, but the sysadmins of the clouds, will they be supermen? will they work 24×7 a week? (per person). It seems that MS or the other providers will put they’re development teams of exchage, Wserver.. to give support and maintenance for the cloud. Do you know how many servers will b need in the entire world???. Let’s see the cloud, but I think that soon we will see the first massive and critical failure of one of them