Cloud Computing Goes Mainstream

Cloud Computing Goes Mainstream

When does a technology actually become mainstream, an established part of our daily lives? Is it when it becomes part of the popular vocabulary, or when there’s an addition to the Oxford English Dictionary confirming its existence? Is it when companies make money selling that technology, or when people make money buying and selling shares of these companies? All of these go a long way in making cloud computing an integral part of our lives; however, I believe it’s now when there’s a university course actually teaching the technology that it’s actually gone mainstream.

There’s a simple reason I make that assertion – for its scope to influence popular thinking. Cloud computing, for all its media coverage and exchange-traded funds, for all the talk about multi-billion dollar growth and emerging companie, would have remained a field of interest for the technological and financial elite until education embraced the cause. Now, with a certification course in cloud computing being introduced by the Professional and Continuing Education division at the University of Washington, it has.

On 5th August, Dr. Erik Bansleben, Program Development Director, Academic Programs at the University of Washington, revealed the outline of a new certificate program offered by the university in cloud computing. The program’s webpage at http://www.pce.uw.edu/certificates/cloud-computing.html reveals the highlights of the program, including an overview of topics covered:

  • Cloud computing models: software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), infrastructure as a service (laaS) and database as a service
  • Market overview of cloud providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google, RightScale, CloudSigma, GoGrid and Force.com
  • Strategic technology choices and development tools (including Eclipse and other IDEs, Heroku, Force.com and Elastic Beanstalk) for basic cloud application building
  • Web-scale analytics and frameworks for processing large data sets using Hadoop and MapReduce
  • Advanced topics including database query optimization, consideration of NoSQL solutions, memory caching, fault tolerance and disaster recovery

The advertised benefits for students include the knowledge to “design scalable applications that minimize local storage and processing”, besides becoming “an expert in cloud computing concepts and be able to advise on adopting a successful a cloud computing strategy” for businesses. The course is offered in both online and classroom versions, the latter highlighting the location, Seattle, as “a hub for world-class cloud development and host to prominent cloud leaders Amazon, Microsoft and Google.” Both course offerings begin in October 2011 and span 9 months, priced similarly at $2,577. While “some experience” is mentioned as being necessary to apply, there are no specifics. However, people who are encouraged to apply include “Software and business application developers, web developers, Individuals interested in writing scalable applications for business analytics or large data set processing and SAS or R programmers.”

In addition to course instructors, guest speakers from cloud computing vendors and industry leaders will be invited to present actual case studies to further apply context to course theory. Dr. Bansleben mentioned that students will be provided with specific “use cases for or against using cloud services vs. using your own hosted services.”

It took nanotechnology quite a few years to transition from the realm of science fiction to a discipline that can be taught at universities. Today, there are numerous educational institutions across the US that teach students this amazing technology. With this cloud computing certification course, the other technology of the future – cloud computing – has taken a significant step.

By Sourya Biswas

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