Understanding The Place Of Cloud Computing In Higher Learning
As higher learning institutions deal with the inevitable challenge of rising costs and therefore the need to cut budgets, a good number are thinking of cloud computing solutions as suitable long term remedies. Although cautious stakeholders in the education sector have raised concerns over security issues, just as any other business would, the potential benefits for higher learning seem to already outweigh the risks which are no doubt being addressed by leading players in the cloud computing industry.
A 2011 cloud tracking poll by CDW showed that 28 per cent of the organizations sampled use cloud computing to a considerable extent. In the U.S alone, 34 per cent of higher learning institutions are using some form of cloud computing services, only 3 percentage points behind usage among businesses which led at 37 per cent. The study also went ahead to illustrate that only 5 per cent of higher learning institutions are not considering cloud computing in the foreseeable future.
With respect to SaaS, IaaS and PaaS, cloud computing can boost the endeavors of higher education through increased access to hitherto expensive IT services, higher interoperability between disconnected functions both internally (within institutions) and externally (between institutions and the outside environment), and scalable, 24 X7X 365 working systems
There are already impressive examples of learning institutions which have achieved considerable cost reductions by adopting cloud computing. A good case in point is the Eastern Washington University which managed to save $70,000 in a span of three years once they deployed Live@edu by Microsoft for their email services. Lakehead University on the other hand retains up to $250,000 in annual spending on email services after outsourcing their services to Google. Email is just one tiny section of cloud computing but the results are clearly reflective of the revolutionary effects the cloud can achieve in higher learning institutions.
Analysts have bravely pointed out that in the next five to ten years, all major IT services as well as resources that are currently managed from physical working premises will be outsourced to cloud computing providers. Research organizations have observed that in the near future, cloud computing will change the face of IT to a magnitude equal to what the internet has done to business.
Therefore, higher learning institutions should attend to the need to embrace the cloud and take a lead because higher learning equally needs to play a role in the future of this technology that promises to be the next ‘revolt’ in the history of Information Technology.
By John Omwamba