Hello fellow HEUGers! I wanted to highlight some sessions on cloud computing that will be at Alliance 2011 in Denver this year, so I thought I’d post a blog on some of the terms and what they mean. My institution, Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS), has been “in the cloud” since 2002 when we outsourced our back end ERP hardware and management. We are now have a help desk CRM, email, non-credit/workforce software, and our learning management system in the cloud hosted with 3rd party providers. I often get emails and calls related to KCTCS's experiences with cloud computing and I've noticed many folks are just looking for a definition of it. Simply Google the term “cloud computing definition” and you’ll get at least 20 different credible answers. However, in my opinion, Michael Hugos of the Centers for Systems Innovation (C4SI) has nailed the three common characteristics of cloud computing in his chapter in the book CIO Best Practices:
1. The cloud offers practically unlimited computing resources
2. The cloud offers no long term commitments
3. The cloud gives you a pay as you go cost structure
Within the all-encompassing scope of the cloud are three tech layers. These build upon each other and the layers are Hardware, Data storage/system management, and Applications. Hardware virtualization is typically called infrastructure as a service (IAAS) and entails serving up numerous instances of an operating system/application within the same hardware component. Data storage and system management leverages IAAS and entails the use of the same virtual hardware to host different versions and flavors of databases and related data storage. This is typically called “platform as a service” (PAAS). The Application layer leverages both of the preceding layers and business operations can be scaled up or down based on demand. New copies of a given application can be created instantly and put into production as needed. This last layer is typically labeled "software as a service” (SAAS).
Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds are defined at the simplest level by who owns the data center and physical resources. Public clouds are owned and operated by third parties and multiple companies share resources. Private clouds are typically built within the confines of the institution but they enable an individual institution to maximize use of computing resources. Private clouds can also be provided by a third party, but the resources utilized would be dedicated to the client and not shared with others. Hybrid clouds are simply a mixture of the two, for example you may have a private cloud portal that consumes data from a public cloud ERP system.
I hope this helps give you a simple background as to what some of the common cloud terminologies mean. The cloud certainly makes sense for certain applications, but perhaps not so much for others, that’s where you have to do your homework. For some further information, there will be a breakout session in the Executive Forum on Monday of Alliance, a session Tuesday morning at 9:30 in Korbel 2A “Demystifying the Cloud: A Framework for Defining Cloud Computing on your Campus”, and a session at 9:30 Tuesday morning entitled PeopleSoft Cloud Integration: It’s safe, it’s Secure in room 110. Hope to see you at Alliance!