What is Cloud Computing?
There are many technological, lengthy, and complicated definitions for cloud computing that talk about the implementation of networks or wireless information access. For me, cloud computing can be summarized much more simply: sharing information online rather than tying down information to specific hardware (computers, laptops, smartphones, etc). In the process of understanding more about cloud computing in schools, I came across this video by Microsoft that details the benefits of a combination of cloud computing and on-premises software:
There are two basic types of cloud infrastructures: internal and external. In an internal cloud, the cloud infrastructure (servers, software, help desks, etc.) is built within the school to meet cloud computing needs. Alternatively, in an external cloud, service providers sell cloud infrastructure services to schools, and house the infrastructure on their own private space. In this scenario, schools are provided only with the applications while data storage, servers, help desks and other cloud computing software are housed outside of the school.
Intel published a case study on cloud computing, selling their own external services to schools. In it, they detail six reasons to switch to cloud computing:
- Provides a flexible, scalable, cost- effective model that does not tie schools to out-of-date infrastructure or application investments
- Offers the flexibility to meet rapidly changing software requirements for today’s and tomorrow’s teachers and students
- Allows software standardization, a shared pool of applications for use school- or district-wide, and easier maintenance through centralized licensing and updates
- Enables rapid development and deployment of complex solutions without the need for in-house expertise
- Can eliminate the upfront financial burden of deploying new technologies through a pay-as-you-go model
- Supports multiple client platforms both inside and outside the school infrastructure
Hopefully this post provides you with a brief explanation of cloud computing and what it might mean for schools and educators. If you have any articles or blog posts that go into greater detail, please share them below!