Cloud Services in UK Higher Education: A Feasibility Study for Providing IaaS in the Computing and Library Services of a UK University

Cloud Services in UK Higher Education: A Feasibility Study for Providing IaaS in the Computing and Library Services of a UK University

Alexandros Chrysikos (University of Huddersfield, UK), James McDowell (University of Huddersfield, UK) and Rupert Ward (University of Huddersfield, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9924-3.ch023
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Abstract

The current chapter reports an investigation of Information Technology (I.T.) enablement for a Higher Education Institution (HEI), with focus on the feasibility of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) using Cloud Computing technology. A pragmatist - mixed-methods research approach was followed to establish the Feasibility Study, which included the potential IaaS risks and benefits for a HEI such as the Computing & Library Services of a UK university. An analysis of the advantages and disadvantages, as well as a legal, social, operational and Service Level Agreement (SLA) discussion are provided. Furthermore, the authors outline the potential impact on the institution's employment. Finally, based on the Feasibility Study, the authors recommend a list of selection criteria and evaluation methods that could be regarded as the basis for a future IaaS Cloud decision model for HEIs. The findings of the current investigation contribute to the body of knowledge for both academics and I.T. managers.
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Background

Cloud Computing Overview

Many I.T. managers, from both academia and industry, argue that Cloud Computing is nothing more than another form of outsourcing similar to data-center outsourcing (Cisco, 2009). Even if there is a correlation, Cloud Computing is differentiated by its primary characteristics of resource pooling, on-demand self-service, pay-as-you-go pricing, and rapid elasticity (Mell & Grance, 2009; Armbrust et al., 2010a). These characteristics make it problematic to some and attractive to others. For instance, elasticity of storage and computer power, and on-demand self-service may be attractive options for a research scientist, but it could be a potential issue for the I.T. manager of a HEI who is accountable for the integrity of the research data (Cisco, 2009).

The most important factor in promoting Cloud Computing has been the recognition that large data-centers have thousands of servers which, in general, do not operate at full capacity, creating a surplus of computer capacity (Dillon et al., 2010). Cloud Computing enables greater returns on data-center investments, by using these resources more efficiently through virtualization (Cisco, 2009; Dillon et al., 2010). In addition, it gives the opportunity to an organization like a HEI to develop its own private Cloud within its own infrastructure.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA): A systematic approach in order to estimate the advantages and disadvantages of a decision/investment in a business. It is a method that is used to evaluate the best possible approach for the adoption and practice in terms of benefits in time, cost savings, etc.

Infrastructure as a Service: One of the three fundamental service models of Cloud Computing, alongside Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). IaaS is a provision model in which an organization outsources its equipment, such as storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The client pays on a per-use basis while the service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running, and maintaining it.

Cloud Computing: A recently evolved technology that relies on utility and consumption of shared computing services.

Education Cloud: A suite of Cloud services that aids UK universities and researchers in terms of compute and storage requirements through VMware, VCloud, and Open Stack technologies.

Higher Education Institution: An optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after secondary education. Higher education is usually delivered at colleges, seminaries, academies, universities, and institutes of technology.

JANET: A private, UK government-funded organization that provides computer network and related collaborative services to UK education and research.

Cloud Provider: A company that offers some component of Cloud Computing, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to other organizations.

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