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How Universities Implement Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has been universally recognized as a critical component in the field of education. This is more so in the higher education sector where more advanced tools are necessary for data sharing, teaching, and protection, as well as for advanced instruction.
Generally, most countries in the world experience a decline in higher education budgets. Because of this, and because of the fact that universities need to be able to continue to deliver quality services in spite of the limited budget, the role of IT has tremendously arisen to a whole new level (Mircea, 2011). Of course, IT is a complicated technology to operate and maintain by itself. With cloud computing, however, things become more easily manageable (Tout, 2009).
Furthermore, cloud computing remarkably boosts the learning ability of the students. With this technology, learning approaches and strategies unheard of before, or, at the very least, thought to be undoable, are now being used on a large scale. The University of Washington, to name one in a harem of many, normally uses the cloud to effectively implement collaborative learning approaches where the students are able to work alongside students from other locations in order to achieve a common goal. The said university, too, has greatly enhanced the e-learning capability which has made distant learning more effective and more efficient (Pocatilu et al., 2009).
So, how do universities implement cloud computing? How do they effectively integrate it to their systems?
According to IBM (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/webservices/library/ws-vcl/index.html?ca=drs-), cloud computing services are categorized to three: infrastructure, platform, and software. Basically, these three are the foundations with which universities and colleges implement cloud computing.
First, let us briefly discuss how cloud computing becomes useful as an ‘infrastructure.’ Basically, the cloud can be used as a digital place where data, even servers, can be stored and protected. Indeed, cloud computing will allow university administrators to actually control much of their resources with more efficiency and with less cost.
The second important application of cloud computing in the higher education sector is the PaaS, or Platform as Service. Basically, cloud computing will allow universities to use it as a platform where they will be able to access other services and more advanced and more dedicated applications. As a matter of fact, PaaS will not merely allow one to access advanced services, it will also allow creation of unique services. This is, in fact, why cloud computing is very efficient: it, basically, allows users to use cloud computing as a jump off point where users can either use it to access other services, create that application or service, or both.
Last is the SaaS, or Software as Service. Basically, cloud computing allows users – in this case, universities and the learners in those universities – to actually utilize a wide range of applications and software online. As we all know, there are literally thousands of these useful applications in the internet, some of which are free while the others are not. At any rate, SaaS will allow users to access all of these.
Of course, most of the cloud computing structures used by universities are hybrids. In other words, they are eclectically modified to serve the institution in the most efficient way possible. And, provided that some minor details are resolved, cloud computing will definitely redefine the whole educational process itself (http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/2009/EECS-2009-28.html).
By Cenon Gaytos