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Clouds for Education

Bill St Arnoud blogs that he is a big advocate of using commercial cloud services rather than rolling out a do-it-yourself cloud for a number of reasons:

(a) The cloud market is intensively competitive and innovative, where scale can make a huge difference in terms of reliability and accessibility. It is much easier to develop a set of common contractual service and interface requirements with commercial suppliers in regards to privacy, reliability etc. SURF and SURFnet, for example spent almost 2 years negotiating a set of common service interfaces with major cloud providers on behalf of all the education institutions in the Netherlands. They are also developing the collaborative federated ID tools to use these cloud services called SURFconext.

(b) The cloud will enable much faster adoption of IPv6 by universities and educational institutes. One would think that R&E institutions would be at the forefront of IPv6 adoption—but sadly there are not. By moving e-mail, web services and other applications to cloud providers that support IPv6 universities, schools and colleges can avoid a lot of the pain of deploying IPv6 at their institution. As well students and researchers off campus will see dramatic improvement in the performance of their campus applications (especially those using mobile Internet) as most cloud providers use distributed architectures and are collocating cloud facilities at major IXs and GOLEs. This is why future network architectures built around GOLEs are so important.

Even though GOLEs were originally intended for high end optical applications, paradoxically they are also critically important for future mobile wireless Internet. See Future architecture and Directions for R&amsp;E networks http://goo.gl/pV0Dw

(c) Commercial Clouds enable greening of the campus. As Bill has blogged many times the easiest way for a university to reduce its carbon footprint is to offload as much as possible its HPC and campus computing to a green cloud provider. Campus computing represents anywhere from 15-40% of the carbon footprint at a typical university or college. I am pleased to report, for example, in Canada a major green cloud provider Rackforce is now working with Canadian Standards Association to develop the appropriate standards, as an outcome of the Greenstar project to allow institutions to earn green credits by using the RackForce cloud service.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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