Teaching Clouds: Lessons Taught and Lessons Learnt

Teaching Clouds: Lessons Taught and Lessons Learnt

Lee Gillam (University of Surrey, UK), Bin Li (University of Surrey, UK) and John O’Loughlin (University of Surrey, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0957-0.ch006
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In this chapter, the authors discuss the scope, content, and technical challenges offered up in the construction and delivery of a 10 week long Cloud Computing module that combines discussions of the principles and key characteristics of Cloud Computing with a series of practical exercises and an implementation-based coursework. The authors present an overview of the core of this module, which starts from the Software, Platform, and Infrastructure (SPI) model and builds from this around SOAP and REST, Hadoop, related paradigms such as Grids and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) computing, and the all-important Service Level Agreement (SLA). The chapter further describes the practical exercises undertaken in lab-based sessions, and the nature of the assessment. It concludes with a brief discussion of the lessons learned to date through this delivery.
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Outline Of The Module: Lectures

To introduce both the principles and practical applications of the Cloud, the important first step for us was to establish the set of seed definitions and distinctions of Cloud from which the subject should grow. It is not necessary to have the perfect set of definitions or defining characteristics – indeed, discussion of fuzziness of definition offers substantial opportunity for discussion based around attempting to interpret such definitions and determine their application to things which might, or might not, be Clouds. Such a set of definitions enables us at least to appraise offerings which are labeled “Cloud” and determine whether they fit such a label. In certain cases, the rebranding of extant products may not necessarily result in a good fit, especially if it is merely cosmetic – for example, adding ‘cloud’ to product names.

Our starting set of definitions comes from Mell and Grance (2011) at the U.S. National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST). The NIST definitions necessitate time spent dealing with the expansion of their defining characteristics (emphasized below in bold):

“A model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed offive essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models”. 1

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