Cloud Computing: Hype of Hope

Educause 2009

Michael Dieckmann  – Senior Associate Vice President & CIO , University of West Florida

Melissa Woo – Director of Cyberinfrastructure/Director, Network & Operations Services , University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

They started off by stating that they would focus on the ‘public ‘ cloud (commercial) and the two layers within that – the one  driven by the institution and the other by the users themselves. All definitions ,  they claim, including  Gartner and NIST, include similar shared terms:  the Cloud is a network delivered service, incorporates massive sharing, is  elastic and scalable and metered by use/you pay as you go. It maybe this focus on the public cloud, and not the private cloud within and between institutions, that is the reason ultimately for my dissatisfaction with the overall session, explained later

See the session here  (ultimately)and help me avoid repeating the session badly from my notes!

The session ping-ponged back and forth between the two protagonists with an occasional question thrown in by the convenor.

·         It’s inevitable and economic issues will drive it; no, its not about ‘when ‘ but ‘why’ –what happens if we can’t guarantee access to data?

·         When a service can be provided reliably outside of the institution why should resource be invested to run service in- house? … oh its all about costs for you, we need to be careful about costs loaded elsewhere – legal, IP etc

·         What happens if a cloud provider reneges on a service?  But already having to deal with similar issues – eg how many are now tied into a provider like Blackboard

·         If everyone is using cloud services how do universities differentiate themselves? This is a fallacy – differentiation is not the tool but what people are doing with the tool

But as was said look at number of universities whose students already forward their emails to another provider, the same is true for admin and faculties functions as well. However  the discussion centred only on those utility type services and as such  it seemed to me that centering on the public cloud meant that the argument was a no brainer – the switch has happened. Perhaps the real and more important question around the cloud sits with areas like research data – about ownership and IPR and the issues of security, integrity and safety. Will universities be prepared to put all this at the mercy of a public cloud – almost certainly not. It was a shame that the issue of the private cloud didn’t get surfaced, as it was , the Hype speaker was trounced by the fact that the pubic cloud and the shift utility services has already happened.