How to execute a successfulcloud strategy in FEGraham Eland, Head of IT Systems and Strategy,Leeds City College
2Cloud Computing has many benefits, although not limited, examples include the following:• Rapid deployment and speed of change - Cloud computing is much faster to deploy; Colleges haveminimal project start-up costs and can predict operational costs. A new IT service can be deployed withhours.■ Cost benefits and reduced capital expenditure - Cloud computing services are typically pay as yougo. Colleges will only pay for the services they use. There is no need for computer server hardwareto be available on the College estate and no capital expenditure requirement.■ Environmentally friendly - Colleges using Cloud computing will only use the server space theyneed which decreases their on premise carbon footprint. Using the Cloud service would result in atleast 30% less energy consumption and carbon emissions in comparison to using on premise serverhardware.■ Increased access to systems - College systems can be accessed from anywhere, anytime using anydevice. A mobile ‘app’ will allow staff and students to connect to the Cloud services using anymobile device. Access from desktop computers and laptops is generally from a web browser. Cloudsystems are device and operating system agnostic, which means the Cloud service, is not tied to aparticular device or operating system. Cloud services can be accessed from any hardware device(desktop, laptop, mobile device) using any operating system (Windows, Apple , Android) and anyweb browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox).■ Automatic software updates - Cloud computing suppliers manage all software and security updateson behalf of the College, as a result College IT staff time and resources can be used for other tasks.Cloud computing is the use of computer resources (hardware and software) which are available ina remote location and accessible over an IT network (typically the internet). Users are able to buycomputing resources (including storage and computing power) as a utility and on demand. The name‘Cloud Computing’ comes from the common use of a cloud-shaped symbol as an abstraction for thecomplex infrastructure it contains in system diagrams. End users access cloud-based applicationsthrough a web browser or mobile application or ‘app’ while the business software and users data arestored on servers at a remote location.Introduction - What is cloud computing?Planning Systems and WorkloadWhy should a College consider cloud computing?
3There are also some associated risks with using Cloud Computing which should be considered byColleges when implementing a Cloud strategy, these include:■ Colleges do not physically store their data on premises, which leaves the responsibility includingdata protection and data security with the provider.■ With data being held externally, business continuity and disaster recovery are the responsibility ofthe provider also. Service Level Agreement (SLA) and contract agreements should be considered tominimise the risk.Defining the cloud business needs and requirements for Colleges – The service modelsCloud Computing has brought together a range of technologies that can deliver scalable tailored andvirtualised IT resources and applications over the Internet. There are 3 main types of Cloud Computing,these are:■ Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)■ Platform as a Service (PaaS)■ Software as a Service (Saas)Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is the most basic cloud service model, providers of IaaS offer physicalcomputers or (more often) virtual machines and other resources to the College.Platform as a service (PaaS) is a service model which provides a computing platform as a service. In thismodel the College creates the software using tools and/or libraries from the provider. The College alsocontrols software deployment and configuration settings. The provider provides the networks, serversand storage.Software as a service (SaaS) is a software delivery model in which software and associated data iscentrally hosted in the cloud. SaaS is typically accessed by users using a web browser. SaaS has becomea common delivery model for many business applications, including Office Messaging software anddatabase software.There must be a clear understanding of both application and software requirements to enable the correctservice model to be chosen, some Colleges have used feedback from students and staff to determine thecorrect business model to be deployed.Risks of cloud computing
4The Cloud Service ModelsCost and return on investmentIn Cloud Computing the College can move from a Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) model to anOperational Expenditure (OPEX) model through purchasing the use of a cloud service rather thanhaving to own and manage the assets of that service. As a result the cost benefits are achieved far morequickly. The use of Cloud Computing within a College also potentially means a movement to a pay-as-you-go style costing model which can have different tariffs and contractual obligations compared totraditional IT ownershipNetwork infrastructure considerationsCloud services held external to College will have implications for a College IT support team, whether in-house or outsourced. It is recommended the number and location of Internet Service Providers or (ISP)is reviewed. Consideration must be given to having multiple Internet Service Providers with Internetconnections entering the College estate on different campuses. Resilience is crucial when all access toCloud Services is through the Colleges Internet connection. It is recommended backup or dual systemsare in place. Similarly with “Wi-Fi” it is recommended multiple ‘Wi-Fi’ controllers are implementedensuring resilience and allowing mobile devices, either students own devices or College owned devicesaccess to the Internet at all times.A College network topology diagram should be reviewed and amended to eliminate or reduce thenumber of ‘single points of failure’. A network infrastructure topology should be designed that worksfor the Cloud.Linking a cloud strategy to the overall College strategyThe IT governance of a Cloud strategy is extremely important for successful migration and deploymentof services. As part of the College strategic planning process thought should be given when developingthe strategic plan on how this links to the lower level IT strategy and IT operational plans. A ‘goldenthread’ approach is recommended where clearly defined actions, timescales and accountability can befollowed through from the College strategic plan covering a number of years, down to annual operatingstatements and through to department team plans. This framework will form the basis of a successfulcloud strategy and best practice IT governance.
5Future of cloud in Further EducationIn summary there are many reasons why a College should consider a future Cloud strategy. Reducedcapital expenditure costs and potentially reduced IT support costs. “Pay As You Use” services areattractive options, increased access to services from any location using any device for both staff andstudents are significant benefits also.‘Bring Your Own Device’ or ‘BYOD’ is making some inroads into FE Colleges. In some Colleges studentsand staff are encouraged to being their personal devices into College and connect to the College ‘Wi-Fi’to access IT systems. BYOD has resulted in data breaches. For example, if a member of staff or studentuses a smartphone to access the College IT systems and then loses that phone, untrusted parties couldretrieve any unsecured data on the phone, this is known as data leakage. The Cloud offers a solution tothis problem, no data is stored on the device, and data is stored remotely in the Cloud.BYOD is fraught with risk in the absence of a proper IT security strategy. Support of heterogeneousdevices without the forethought makes it very difficult for IT support teams to establish and enforcecontrols which opens the door to potential data breaches and leakage through mechanisms such asmalware.As time progresses, more and more services will be deployed to the Cloud as the risks are reduced andthe security increased. Students will simply be required to ‘Bring Your Own Browser’ or ‘BYOB’ toaccess IT systems.