Cloud computing goes to college

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Higher education institutions face increasing challenges due to shrinking revenues, budget restrictions and limited funds for research and development. In line with the people, process and technology paradigm, many educational institutions are exploring various initiatives to address these challenges. Some are looking toward business transformation strategies and an ideological shift to enterprise culture to address the people and process sides of that paradigm. On the technology side, one of the most significant potential avenues for transformation is the adoption of cloud computing to reduce costs, boost performance and productivity and increase revenue.

cloud and educationWhile a total transformation will need to address all three elements, I will focus here on the technology aspect. Cloud computing is an effective and efficient technology that can provide education and prepare students for the requirements of the job market, all at a low cost and with no degradation of quality in the delivery of education.

Many educational institutions currently host their IT services on premises. Shifting away from this model to cloud would allow them to focus on their core business— education—instead of having to allocate resources for things such as disaster recovery, technical support, storage, help desks, e-labs and e-assessments. Institutions could opt for a “pay as you go” model to share compute loads with other schools, which would prevent the need to host and maintain dedicated infrastructures.

Though cloud computing can bring many benefits to higher education institutions, some issues still need to be considered and addressed, among which are:

  • Security and the degree to which an institution is willing to relinquish a certain degree of control over that security
  • The legal issues surrounding data sharing
  • The service provider’s ability to ensure privacy controls and protect data ownership
  • The service provider’s ability to provide adequate and satisfactory support
  • The continuity and availability of data

Cloud computing is an attractive option for cost-conscious institutions seeking to reduce financial and environmental outlays while transforming education. This technological advancement can make knowledge available to entire communities, bridge the social and economic divide and prepare future generations of students and teachers to face the challenges of the global economy.

What are your thoughts on the potential impacts of cloud computing in higher education? Leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter at @MaAsiaPacific to continue the conversation. Also, check out my colleague Allan Tate’s post, “Five ways cloud is enhancing higher education.”

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