Cloud Computing in Education Sector

Cloud computing is broadly referred to as the transmission of extensible Information Technology resources over the internet, on the contrary to accommodating and managing the same resources locally, which can be on a university or college network. The resources can be inclusive of services and application, in addition to the infrastructure they operate on. By distributing IT services and infrastructure over the cloud network, any organization can buy these resources as and when they need and hence avoid having to spend money on hardware and software. In addition, cloud computing enables organizations to adjust IT capacity easily and quickly in order to accommodate their changing demands. While those services that are hosted and managed remotely belong to the overall IT infrastructure, several factors such as pervasive networks, the advancement of software and hardware virtualization, growing standards, and the urge to make various IT costs transparent and volatile have been inciting an elevated interest in cloud computing.

Cloud computing services seem to be popular and developing in the education sector, especially in higher education, in areas like student email. Howbeit, institutions of higher education are expected to attain new cloud services rather than trying to change the traditional services being managed by the campus. There are several universities and colleges that envision usage of cloud services in various other areas, usually driven by students or faculty waiting on the additional level of convenience and flexibility they can obtain from the cloud. Financial constraints and the need to provide prompt access to modern IT services are some of the factors that spur more and more education institutions to think about moving to cloud computing services.

Working of the Cloud in Education Institutions

In a classic enterprise computing scenario, IT staff project need for capacity and applications and invest money and time to create pertinent resources internally or otherwise buy the same from external sources and use them in-house. When it comes to using cloud computing services, education institutions obtain IT services from remote service providers, and provide access to the same through the internet. For instance, email is always considered to be an institution’s key IT operation. This service can be acquired from a wide variety of sources, and an increasing number of institutions collaborate with external providers to obtain this function. In such cases, the service provider will host the software, and therefore it does not have to be installed or maintained on computers in the campus. On the other hand, there are also large universities, colleges, or conglomerates that offer these functions through the cloud. Cloud can also be used to meet an organization’s or institution’s processing and storage needs. They are required to pay only for the resources they use. Users are offered the ability to access desired files and applications virtually from any device that is connected to the internet. In a sophisticated cloud environment, education institutions will be able to include several new IT services, in addition to responding to capacity changes whenever needed, thus saving huge sums of money that can be used on other important programs with strategic value.

Importance of Cloud

With the help of cloud computing, organizations are presented with a unique operation model, which institutes the advancements of web networks and applications and the growing interoperability of systems pertinent to providing IT services. Most cloud service providers specialize in certain services and applications. This level of expertise enables them to manage maintenance and upgrades, failover functions, disaster recovery, and backups efficiently. Thus, cloud users will get to experience greater reliability. Also, cloud computing enables organizations to oversee their present needs and increase or decrease capacity based on their changing needs, without having to pay for unused capacity during reduced demands. Apart from gaining the ability to reduce costs, education institutions attain the flexibility of responding to new service requests quickly by obtaining them from the cloud.

One other primary benefit that higher education can enjoy from cloud computing is its scalability. This is especially beneficial for higher education research projects that need huge storage capacities for a limited period of time.

Future of Cloud Computing in Education

The evolution of cloud computing as a feasible solution for several IT services has been in the rise for the past several years. Experts anticipate cloud computing to go through major adoption in the education sector in the following years, and many IT leaders working in the sector think that on campus cloud programs will be greatly increased in the near future. And when these efforts turn out to be successful, more and more institutions will be willing to move most of their services to the cloud. Though the benefits associated with cloud computing are real, there are issues pertinent to technology and policies that are yet to be resolved in order for the service to attain its ability in full. Large organizations of higher education are expected to invest in cloud services more than ever.

Universities and colleges strive to provide a wide range of technology services. Cloud computing, by way of offering different services over the internet, enables these institutions to improve their operational efficiency and target scanty resources on those services that serve to be key differentiators. In order to operate efficiently in a cloud environment, IT staff and leaders should develop different skill sets, including the ability to supervise the assimilation of outsourced and in-house services, manage contracts, and craft IT budgets. As students and faculty at different institutions will be able to access cloud services easily, facilitation of inter-institutional collaboration is also made easier. Also, though there may be security threats associated with using cloud services, there are people who believe that the level of security offered by cloud services is more than that of on-campus solutions.

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