Category Archives: Education

Cloud Confusion: The ‘Fluffy White Thing’ And The Potential Within

Cloud Confusion: The ‘Fluffy White Thing’ And The Potential Within

A recently conducted national survey has revealed that the layman American consumer is not precisely aware of what cloud computing in actual is and how, in essence, does it function. The research survey, initiated by Citrix and carried out by Wakefield Research, incorporated responses from more than 1000 American adult consumers.

A significant percentage from amongst the surveyed lot was convinced that cloud technology is linked with weather, has kinship with heaven, is closely related to happenings in the outer galaxy and even has something to do with toilet paper (huh?).

One has to admit that the survey, at some points, was evidently crafted to bring some humorous specks to the main. Consider, for example, the inquiry that posed what the cloud is, about 29% declared it being a ‘fluffy white thing’ (a real cloud) or a close variant; a mere 16% were able to read between the lines and correlate to computer network, remote storage, data sharing and the internet.

The utterly encouraging part is that despite the evident lack of sound knowledge (and a strongly felt presence of absurd beliefs) about cloud computing, the majority of participants, 68% to be exact, frequently recognized the potential inherent to cloud computing endorsement – lowering the cost of the operations was agreed upon by about 35% of the respondents, small business promotion and growth was marked by about 32% of those interviewed. Furthermore, about 35% expressed their belief that customer relations can be bolstered by cloud adaptation.

In addition, about 60% of the respondents thought they are yet to use cloud computing. Clearly they are unaware of the fact that whether knowingly or not, 95% of those surveyed actually made use of cloud computing in one form or the other. The breakdown includes using online banking, purchasing stuff online, being socially connected, enjoying online games, saving photos online and file sharing – powered at the core by cloud computing technology.

Participants of the survey are quite sure about the changes that cloud endorsement would bring about at ventures. A hefty 59% are confident that workplace of the future would reside on the cloud in its entirety. The associated fun side of cloud computing has captivated a mammoth percentage of Americans. An estimated 40% found the ability to use the cloud as a primary work-from-home tool an enriched experience. A startling 33% found direct access to their digital content in the middle of a sunbath truly fascinating.

The question remains whether it truly is important for the general public to understand the dynamics behind cloud computing? Well, it sure does. The cloud is expected to reshape on-job responsibilities of a significant proportion of those working in the US. And this holds true nor only for IT professionals but for a broad spectrum of employment genres. The cloud continues to add novel facets to sales, operations, finance and marketing.

By Humayun Shahid

 

Cloud Computing: A Quiet Game Changer In Education

Cloud Computing: A Quiet Game Changer In Education

A Quiet Game Changer In Education?

Cloud computing or simply ‘the cloud’ as is often referred to in IT circles, is increasingly changing the education landscape. Many classroom educators didn’t see this coming, safe of course for a selected few technology professors who have consistently sought to bring the light of cloud to the academia. But isn’t this the beauty of technology? It sneaks into hitherto organized systems, rips them apart, and creates new opportunities that only the wise can grab upfront and walk to the bank.

This is the exact kind of ‘harm’ that cloud computing is posing to traditional education systems. We have already witnessed the rise of virtual learning centers, personal learning, and the all-popular long-distance learning. Thanks to could computing, students from different locations around the world can collaborate on assignments, rendering them interactive among their peers in education.

The ability to bring together students and teachers via a device and enable them to accomplish entire learning tasks as if they were together in one classroom is not very far from  ‘magical.’ Yet this is not even the entire capability of the cloud effect in education. There is the whole aspect of ‘information durability’ which allows information to be stored in the cloud for as long as the universe remains active. What if Archimedes of Syracuse was somehow able to upload videos of his findings in YouTube or some supportive cloud computing environment?

Many schools have moved their resources online with libraries filled with hundreds of thousands of books that students can access at any time. The advent of online video has made the idea of cloud in education even more exciting because schools can produce teaching videos in any subject, upload them to their libraries in the cloud, and make them available to their students. This alone is a game-changing possibility that dedicated educators cannot ignore and hope to compete with in this sector. Luckily such opportunities are within the reach of any learning institution

The cloud is also taking learning opportunities to those who have never gone through the traditional education system or indeed those who never quite finished their course at the right time, perhaps for lack of resources. If someone never finished their degree or diploma course, they have all the chances to obtain diplomas and degrees through cloud learning systems. Meanwhile, people changing countries in search of new opportunities can carry on with their education right from the cloud.

We’re not shy to mention that there are still countless challenges that cloud computing is dealing with, whether in normal business or education. But the pace of adoption of the cloud into the learning environment is sufficient proof that the rules of traditional learning are undergoing a revolution that is dominantly inspired by the cloud space. The changes can only grow because the amount of cloud innovation we are experiencing is phenomenal.

By John Omwamba

Cloud Computing Basics For Beginners And Non-Experts

Cloud Computing Basics For Beginners And Non-Experts

Cloud Computing Basics

Cloud computing basics is where we are going to start. Cloud computing is a term we hear quite often, but there are very few people who understand what it’s all about. You would argue that whatever technology this is, it is probably out of your world or too complex. In reality, cloud computing is a simple technology that has been around for a while, and almost all of us have used it, without even knowing. In simple terms, cloud computing entails running computer/network applications that are on other people’s servers using a simple user interface or application format. It’s that simple.

If this language still sounds strange, going back to basics will tell you something about what cloud computing is all about. In the olden days of networking, way before Google or Yahoo was born, companies ran e-mail as an application whose data was stored in-house. As such, all the files, documents, messages, and other things you currently use in e-mail were stored in a safe, dark room on the company’s premises. These sounds familiar because you were probably banned from visiting that room due to security reasons.

Cloud Computing Basics

Moving forward into the 20th century, when companies like Google started showing up, the way e-mail was treated and utilized was revolutionized. It would have been a commercial bid to get more subscribers, but these companies chose to open their servers to store e-mail information for you, free of charge. However, to access that data, you have to use their applications like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and so many others. Practically, this is what cloud computing is all about – using other people’s servers to run applications for your organization, remotely.

Cloud Computing Is Bigger

Into the 21st century, the concept of the cloud is the same, but more than ever before, cloud computing is bigger. It’s now becoming possible to use bigger applications that will leverage your business goals and functions easily in the cloud. For example, with cloud computing, you can run all your computer networks and programs as a whole without ever buying an extra piece of hardware or software.

The cloud technology has many benefits and that would explain its popularity. First, companies can save a lot of money; second, they are able to avoid the mishaps of the regular server protocols. For instance, when a company decides to have a new piece of software, whose license can only be used once and it’s pretty expensive, they wouldn’t have to buy software for each new computer that is added to the network. Instead, they could use the application installed on a virtual server somewhere and share, in the ‘cloud’.

These capabilities are becoming even more personalized today, and there are even a few solutions that allow you to use mobile in the cloud. Of course, there are very few people who aren’t willing to lose control of the little physical tools they are used to (like the dark server room); however, largely, any business that considers cutting costs and wants to move forward in this dynamic age needs to embrace the cloud computing basics, or at least give it a shot to survive.

By Gregory Musungu

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What To Do With Humongous Student Data

What To Do With Humongous Student Data

Some US states are taking the bold step of resolving the problem of streams of student data scattered everywhere. Usually, voluminous student data is stored in various programs. For instance, testing scores are saved in testing programs, and grades are kept in instructional software and learning management applications. More often than not, this data resides in the program and is never extracted and combined with the other data. Now, there is a new project underway that is being supported and funded by large foundations and state education leaders. The project aims to provide a place for all student data in the cloud through the use of open-source software.

With this new initiative, information about student achievement can be integrated with Web resources and instructional applications. The success of this project is highly dependent on the privacy, technology, and willingness of academes to create products for the proposed system. The Shared Learning Infrastructure is supported by the Council of Chief State School Officers and began in 2011. It is funded by the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. Currently, the Shared Learning Collaborative has signed up at least nine states for the project and promises to create a cost-effective system to better store student data.

With the Shared Learning Initiative, student data such as attendance, test results, demographic information, student names, discipliniary history, teachers, grades, standards mastered, and graduation requirements will be stored in the cloud. All this data will be put in the same place, in the same data structure, and be made available when needed. The data will use open-source technology and will be used by districts and states for free. Student data can be made shareable and modifiable. The student test data is then connected to the instructional materials found in other parts of the cloud. Because data and instructional resources are already in the cloud, school administrations can utilize Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in order to access the available data.

Once implemented, the Shared Learning Initiative will greatly benefit students and schools. Since student data is already in the cloud, the new school administration can access and update the data if the student shifts to another school or moves up one grade level. New teachers will better understand student performance because they can access the data in the cloud to check past academic performance. Teachers can even come up with personalized instruction to help a particular student cope. The student data in the clouds is connected with the Common Core Standards so that a better academic path can be provided to the student.

However, there some issues the Shared Learning Initiative needs to address. Firstly, it must ensure that the all the technology used in developing the system works. Secondly, it must ensure that student data is kept private and secure. The Shared Learning Initiative assures us that this is the case, saying that schools, districts, and states own and control their own data. The technology being developed is even said to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Thirdly, the academe must be willing to create products that will utilize the Shared Learning Initiative, and finally, companies which have created their own proprietary products could lose their competitiveness because of the Initiative.

By Florence de Borja

Answers To Gartner’s Six Cloud Computing Risks

Answers To Gartner’s Six Cloud Computing Risks

Cloud computing has been the subject of ever-increasing hype. Anything exposed to such publicity is always accompanied by criticism, whether it be constructive or destructive. Gartner, an information technology research and advisory firm, has completed a report which signifies some crucial risks in the cloud computing industry.

Given below, with appropriate answers to each, are six risks highlighted by the Gartner report.

1: Privileged User Access: A risk which deals with who manages the data of an organization in the cloud. Interestingly, the way most datacenters operate is that there are not very many people around. It is largely an automated process; software is in control of other software or data. In contrast, an organization could have untrustworthy or unreliable employees at its on-premises datacenter. The very fact that automated processes look after an organization’s data means that clouds are more secure compared to data in the hands of the organization itself.

2: Regulatory Compliance: A risk regarding certifications and regulations in relation to a cloud service. Here, the argument is that it is in the cloud service provider’s interest to get as many certifications as it can. Owing to the fact that Gartner’s report on cloud computing risks was published back in 2008, prominent cloud providers have actually acquired certification for their services and datacenters.

3:  Data location: Organizations think of it as a big issue regarding what will happen if their data swims out of control. Taking a step back, if one pictures an individual walking out of his office with a laptop on which his critical data is stored, the chances are high that this laptop could be snatched from him. So, the risk of data location is much greater if one does not store one’s data in the cloud. An intelligent response to the menace of data location is to choose multiple cloud services and store different portions of data in different clouds, so decreasing the danger of data location.

4: Data Segregation: An aspect which deals with the issue that one’s data should not mix with someone else’s data. Yet again, the response to this issue is automation. Today’s cloud services use highly automated services which literally decrease the chances of data loss and data segregation to nearly zero.

5: Data recovery: A topic which implies that consumers might not be able to get their data back. Principally, if some data is mission critical to an organization, the organization will double or even triple back up. More importantly, an organization cannot blame a cloud service for a logical failure – an organization is responsible for deleting its own files, and it cannot hold a cloud responsible for its lost data.

6: Long-term Viability: An aspect which implies that the cloud provider remains in service for eternity. Ideally speaking, there are two aspects of this situation. The first facet, as mentioned before, indicates that an organization should keep its mission-critical data backed up with other cloud services or in-house datacenters. The second part deals with the continuity of a business service. A cloud provider can easily achieve a higher level than a business on its own, particularly in the case of today’s small-scale businesses. Looking at the cloud giants of today, they do not look like they are going to hit any difficulties anytime soon.

Going even further and taking a look from a different angle, there could come a point where cloud providers have grown to such huge sizes that it would not be in the interests of governments to intervene – similar to the banking scenario of today.

By Haris Smith

IBM Me: Cloud Computing Basics

IBM Me: Cloud Computing Basics

IBM has come up with great and easy ways to understand cloud computing and make it functional as well. IBM is a leader when it comes to cloud computing, so it is no surprise that they have managed to do this. Cloud computing can also go beyond cost savings by allowing your users to access the latest software and infrastructure offerings to foster business innovation. Think about what that simple statement means. Yes, saving money is good – even important – but even more important is how the end user uses software and infrastructure. Do you know what that really means?

From the infrastructure side of things, you should be able to offer something that has enough servers, storage and other essential components to get the task at hand done. In this case, the task is setting up a cloud computing structure. IBM offers four different types: X86, Power7, zEnterprise System and iDataplex.

Each server serves a different idea and purpose. The X86 is setup to be very flexible and is one of the best cloud computing platforms available. Massive amounts of data can be moved and used with minimal disruption – it is designed to adapt to changing technology. The Power7 server is about scalability and being able to optimize your workload. These servers are meant for businesses that are mid- to large-sized, and in Power7 servers, cloud computing has a new standard. But are these just fancy words and ideas to get people to buy into a product or service?

Cloud computing is based on several basic ideas. Infrastructure as a service, IaaS, is the basic cloud. Cloud computing starts (or ends) here. IaaS is all about on-demand services for virtual machines, firewalls and networks. PaaS, or platform as a service, is a little deeper, however. This is for solutions; you develop a program on the cloud for you and your employees to use. The service is that someone else is hosting your software for you. SaaS, or software as a service, is where the software that you are using is hosted and run on a virtual machine – there will never be a need for an updated computer after that point.

So, how does cloud computing, or what IBM is offering, mean? You have to determine what services you need before making a true call on it. If you’re looking to run management programs, content management or anything along those lines, you’re going to want to use an SaaS system. If you’re just looking to hold onto some photos or MP3s, an SaaS service would not be something you need. If you understand what you’re looking for, finding the right solution is rather easy. If you’re looking for a cloud computing company, whether it be IBM or not, learn to ask questions to help you figure out what you need to know. Otherwise, it would be easy to end up having too much or too little of the service(s) that you need.

By Emma Joseph

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Cloud Business 101: Storing The Data

Cloud Business 101: Storing The Data

You’re new to CloudTweaks — to cloud computing, for that matter — and you want a quick, simple way into the tech trend right now. Well you’ve got it, cloud-curious businessperson. Here’s a primer on how the cloud benefits businesses new and old, small and large.

Cloud computing launches new businesses more quickly with greater efficiency. This technology virtually eliminates the need to install new software or download it anew elsewhere, as all of a company’s vital applications can be immediately accessed via the cloud. There is no cap on virtual storage space within the cloud either, especially when compared to the traditional storage model of physical servers (the use of which is growing more antiquated by the day, by the way). Augment your cloud storage in a snap with the payment of a relatively frugal fee.

ADVANTAGE: Storing the data for your business on the cloud allows for it to be accessed with ease by any member of your team, slashing communication delays and eradicating the need to physically work together — a boon for well-qualified business aspirants who are always on the go.

It is this ease of access which translates into productivity at a distance, an essential value for many businesses — and SMBs in particular. Utilizing applications in the cloud allows individuals or teams, physically separated, to collaborate as an ensemble, working together on documents sans pesky e-mail attachments or exchanging status updates and feedback no matter where they are.

ADVANTAGE: Dynamic Internet conferencing, professional instant messaging, virtual meetings with clients old or new: these are three of cloud’s specialties for businesses, means of communication that can spur an improvement in how a business pursues and capitalizes on fresh ventures.

Cloud computing lessens the grip of a less-than-ideal economy on thrifty businesses who need to economize. The storage scalability inherent to cloud provides a twofold advantage: businesses need only purchase those applications most needed (a la carte, if you will), and the burden of buying bulky unused storage space along with those applications becomes a thing of the past. Both of these mean cost savings upfront. What is more, several of the most valuable cloud applications can be sampled in their “personal customer” modes for free, such as Dropbox, HootSuite, and Mail Chimp.

ADVANTAGE: In-house server upkeep spending nosedives — or disappears — with use of cloud computing. This “pay as you go” concept applies to several facets of a business, from its desktops (SaaS applications) to company mobile devices.

By Jeff Norman

What Terms Me On, Cloud Computing Lingo?

What Terms Me On, Cloud Computing Lingo?

Cloud computing is all the rage, but knowing what you’re talking about and knowing what you’re talking about are too different things. Here is a quick list of common Cloud computing terms.

Advertising-based pricing model

Low cost or no cost services. The costs are covered through ads that are sent along to the costumer.

Amazon EC2

Amazon cloud computer service

Amazon S3

Amazon storage services

CDN

Content delivery network, multiple computers forming a large network. The network is setup so data can be shared easily across it.

Cloud

This is the main one on the list, a metaphor for a large scale global network.

Cloud broker

A person or business, that maintains relationships over multiple cloud service providers. They are the go between for the providers and the users.

Cloud operating system

Made to run and providers center for data. Example of this is Google Chrome

Cloud Oriented Architecture

Applications serve other applications inside a cloud environment

Cloud Portability

Moving applications and data between different cloud providers

Cloud Storage

Users can save data over the internet to a cloud storage provider or other third party

Cloudsourcing

IT is replaced with cloud services

Cloudstorming

Multiple cloud environments all connected together

Cloudware

Application software that enables running and managing of systems

Cluster

Linked computers working together in the form of a single computer

Consumption-based pricing model

Service provider, charges based on the amount of serviced used, not on a base fee.

Customer self-service

End users (customers) can manage their own services and terminate them as well.

Disruptive technology

Improved products and services that unexpected change how the cloud computing market preforms.

Elastic computing

Memory and storage that can stretch to meet demand

External cloud

Third party cloud service that is either public or private

Google App Engine

For developers to create and run web applications

Google Apps

Heart and soul to Google apps, offers productivity services

Hass

Hardware as a service

Hosted Application

Application software that runs by remote server

Hybrid cloud

Multiple integrated networking environments

laaS

Infrastructure as a service

IBM Smart Business

IBM’s cloud computing service.

Internal cloud

Private cloud service in the users own IT department

Mashup

Applications that are web based from multiple sources

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft’s cloud service

Middleware

Middle of both applications and operating systems, software that runs both

On-demand service

Think Netflix, click the button and you can use it service

PaaS

Platform as a service

Pay as you go

Subsription and consumption models, no long term contracts or extra fees

Private cloud

Private network cloud computing system

Public cloud

Same as above just public

SaaS

Software as a service

Service migration

Moving from one provider to another

Service provider

Who you choose to go with that offers you the cloud computing service

SLA

Service level agreement, the fine print to any contract you sign

Subscription

Paying monthly fees for a set amount and type of use

Utility computing

Metered storage usesage

Vendor lock-in

This is difficulty in migrating from one cloud provider to another

Vertical cloud

Common term for over all cloud computing

Virtual private data center

Shared services of both data and storage

VPC

Virtual private cloud

Windows Live Services

Consumer applications over windows live networks

By Emma Joseph

(Note: This is a fairly basic list of some of the more popular terms. If you have any additional terms that you’d like to add, please feel free to include them in the comment section)

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