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Read the silver lining: The potential of cloud computing for libraries


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  • The overriding theme of this presentation is that cloud computing makes new and amazing things possible.

    Positive bias, Gartner Hype cycle
    Wfu success,
    movement has it’s challenges
    Our discussion this morning is going to focus on three themes

  • Define out IT environment in relation to our information needs
    Think about how CC responds to these needs
    Consider how CC will impact IT

  • “The really radical ideas are interdisciplinary”, Steve Jurvetson
  • 20 years we moved from computer as machine to computer as extension of ourselves
    Information technology about communication, about our identity
    As extensions of ourselves - IT drives the need for social features, collaboration tools, ubiquitous access

    Story - Lets think about the evolution of our technology tools over time. When did you get your first computer, when did you get your first email address, how has your use of IT changed over time?
    Our younger patrons dont have these stories
    Educause report found that internet use is ubiquitous among college students, 50% using technology in mobile environments, 98% use facebook
  • The first personal computer sought a market and role in the home. It took time to define the killer applications - Word,
    As IT has become focused on serving personal information needs they have needed to focus on point-of-information-need tools:
    Killer app in mobility is the network
    Context-specific information
    Text-based communication
    Media creation and publication
  • Our initial library of information consisted of programs with small databases, text files, lists. Our content creation and use has changed in two substantial ways
    Pushing content - The internet is ‘always-on’, the information metaphor is now a wave instead of a key
    Content creation involves multi-media, automatic metadata, multiple systems, multiple locations
    The pace of change in information has been dramatic. Story - the shift in software release cycles
    “Waterfall” model - get features, define functions, develop, deliver
    Iterative model - define base functions, incremental improvements
    Agile and “extreme programming” - Continuous feedback, rapid development, late changing features
    “The app store” model - Software installs and updates automatically, tighter integration with device/os
  • The cost of data storage has dropped precipitously
    The cost of cloud storage is beginning to do the same. A local hard drive costs $.08/GB (once) while cloud storage is becoming competitive ($.14/GB MO)
    What does this mean for our information systems?
    Many online services offer “unlimited” storage
    The cost of computing resources is not the center of service subscription models
    New storage models are beginning to take hold - Cloud-based synchronization services, version control services, archiving services
  • Skype is what we thought telephones would be - video-based, low cost, conferencing
    If skype were a telecom it would be the largest in the world
    Facebook introduced new ways of interacting
    Largest in US but mirrored with other similar sites worldwide
    Smartphones commoditized the abstraction from hardware tool to software tool

    Story - It only took seventeen years to move from usenet groups to facebook groups. Transition is already happening. Myspace use is down to 23% among new college students,

  • We are seeing continued technology growth combined with more rapid adoption paces
    As a result, our technology platforms are changing more quickly - think about the cell phone refresh rate
    Software-based information appliances are replacing hardware
    Continuous improvement is used to maintain marketshare
    What’s next for the web?
  • Given this environment - what can we generalize about our patrons?
    Patron profiles -
    Although internet use drops as age increases, use is growing across all segments and is ubiquitous across younger demographics
    Everyday, diverse, experience focus, socially enabled
    Driven by discipline - place, context, platform matter - customize experience
    Good news - cloud computing makes this easier
    Content creation is shared
    Complex services have already been developed
    Libraries aren’t alone in wanting to appeal to the online user, we just have more noble intentions

  • 1. How will these changes be seen in our IT organizations?
    less centralized control
    faster iteration through systems

  • With these shifts in IT in mind - lets ask what it means for IT support
    We need a new check-list of key features when starting projects
    We need to find new methods to serve the needs of a growingly information diverse population.
    We need to consider how to build on the work of other organizations can help us develop and deliver new services

    It means being prepared for regular change, being more social and collaborative, about not being able to predict
    I have found that an easy win in CC is the ability to leverage pre-created tools (amazon cloud management systems, notification systems)

    Mobility, location-based, push updates, ‘free’ service levels, immediate access and just-in-case storage
  • Now that we have an understanding of where our IT world came from - Lets talk about how cloud computing helps us solve some of those new IT needs.

  • Cloud computing solutions have become everyday things for many of our users
    Typical features
    Cloud-based data storage, some off-line access
    Tight integration within a product suite (gdocs, contacts, email, calendar)
    Tend to be free
    Tend to be browser based
    Story - information literacy class investigation of cloud-application websites. The big downsides:
    cost $
    Required software install
    Did not integrate with other services they already used
    Online versus client-based services 79% of users tracked used Google Docs on a daily basis as compared to just over 50% for Microsoft office tools
    Educause - 3/4 of students use some CC tool
    Diving into these numbers some, you see that Gmail is the leader in access but that certain applications such as excel are much more highly used than cloud-based products
    Interesting factor is the ‘time spent’ - shows more time is still spent in outlook/excel for these users.
    Some fun numbers about internet use:
    79% of americans have used the internet, 98% of college students
    in 2008, Pew Internet Trust found that 69% of them had used a cloud-based service. 56% of them used a cloud-based email account.34% stored photos online, 29% used online productivity tools (gdocs, adobe photoshop express)

  • In addition to common productivity tools CC offers platforms for innovative services
    Multi-site, multi-media
    Anali Perry - Az state Univ
    short videos for instruction or news purposes
    ZSR library ‘toolkit’ videos
    Short videos hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, etc.  Use simple Embed tags to include in local sites
    Brings library into content creation, a little equipment positions library to support broad new area
    By capitalizing on cloud services libraries can support new range of complex information activities
    By being aware of license, rights, and access issues libraries use core values

  • We can ask ‘so-what’, CC is just another form of computing
    The assertion is - CC makes computing support more pervasive
    Chris Tonjes - DCPL
    Pervasive use - website, CMS, central desktop, digtial image archive
    Goal is to involve everyone in the library
    Training, service, support are sustainable - supporting special localized apps is not

  • Knowing this about our patrons - lets turn to defining the cloud
    Defining the cloud
    Metered, Replicable, Service-focused, Subscription, scalable
    When we talk about CC we mean everything from GMail to TB of network disk space, we mean real-time, network based
    For most of us CC is equivalent to services offered on the Internet
    Gartner defines the cloud as service-based, scalable and elastic, shared, metered by use and uses the interneet (Garner 2009)

  • Lets look at definitions more specifically:
    Three related concepts for Internet enabled services
    Cloud computing - “the act of storing, accessing, and sharing data, applications, and computing power in cyberspace”
    NIST & Gartner definition more granular
    Web Service - “software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network” -  RSS feed,  iCal invite
    API - A specification for a web-service
    Our large CC service providers use all of these - Gmail, YouTube, Amazon
    What we find:
    CC has grown literally to “web-scale”, it means just about everything
    CC is at the peak of the gartner hype-cycle. In other words - prepare to be disappointed.

  • Lets look at how CC can be classified. There are some granular definitions - take a read (and pause for 10 seconds)
    Important concept is subscription and scalability -
    CC is very similar to virtualization - the difference lies in how you define it
    Granular definitions
    National institute of standards and technology (3 facets)
    Characteristics - on demand, networked, resource pooling, elastic, measured service
    Service models - Software, Platform, Infrastructure
    Deployment models - Public, Private, Hybird, Community
    Gartner - different, characteristic focused
    metered, scalable, shared, etc

  • Types
    service - delivered as an ‘end-user’ application - serialssolutions
    platform - space for hosting custom services - application hosting - duracloud
    Infrastructure - open capacity - servers, disks - amazon

  • Examples of CC for our patrons
    Productivity, publishing, file storage, social networking, data/infrastructutre
    Talk through slides quickly
    We mentioned google earlier - they are not alone in providing CC based patron services
    Its ok to look at these services loosely and adopt when neccesary

  • How do these categories work for libraries?
    Here is one example - how WFU approached these services
    Service catalog - WFU case study - decided that subscription computing was more attractive than ownership models
    Over course of 4 years moved everything - really focused for last 18 months
    some elements had steep learing curve -talking more about that at LITA
    Lynch pin - needed all new servers - looked at cost vs cloud

    its more important to consider these services systematically
  • 1. We should not think that Library IT is not ready for CC

    There are unanswered questions
    open source, open data
    SAAS,IAAS approaches
    balancing local, community, vendor expertise

  • One of the main issues in cc is that it is needlessly complex - the sessions today are doing a great job of exploring how CC is being used in different ways
  • So how can we begin using the cloud to address current needs?
    1. Just getting started?
    2. Tried a few things before?
  • 1. Try SAAS type products - four main areas
  • 1. Experiment with hosted library systems.
    Omeka - just released, tiered service level
    Ask yourself - ‘could this replace our digital asset management system’

    A key challenge, losing momentum on open source - this provides a good hybrid solution
    A second approach is pre-configured servers
  • Looking for something really fun? Run a server!
    1. Pre-configured application servers - ZSR just getting started
    2. Amazon is free for experimentation
    3. Also rackspace, microsoft. . .
  • Managing complexity
    Expertise is an issue - the more you take on CC, the closer you come to an IT department
    Server cost models and sizing
    Sizing and managing servers
    One-Server-per-service model vs. mega-server model?
    Disk space
    Cost and upgrades
    Amazon cost calculator - costs tend to fluctuate and grow

    Can I do this with my current IT?

  • Now that we have an understanding of where our IT world and how CC helps address it came from - Lets talk about how cloud computing can transform IT
    We are going to do this by looking at potential good and bad outcomes of the cloud and speculating on what this means

    The impact of the cloud
    The tower and the cloud: Higher education in the age of cloud computing Richard Katz
    First - it makes things simpler (google, flicker, youbute)
    Second - it makes our services stronger (LIS hosting, complex systems)
    third - it enables new partnerships, duracloud
  • Cloud computing gives everyone the ability to experiment, deploy, use services without larger IT support - You no longer have to ask the question “can I get a server that runs X?”
    Cloud computing breaks down barriers to service implementation - Pick a service level (service, platform, infrastructure) appropriate to your need
    Cloud computing simplifies systems all the way down the IT food chain -
    CC provides equalized access

    The disruptive force - fewer barriers to market entry
  • I list here 3 major scenarios and future systems - I think the most important one is the rapid in shifting user demands:

    Jeff Bezios - IT is 70/30 IT/core should be switched
    less capital investment, more innovative staff time positions your organization to respond to new demands

    look at the pace of change in LIS systems
    Look at the shift in goals of DAMS
    Think about the requirements of open source - fragmented platforms
    Potential complications:
    Future shift in issue focus

    security is a more complex issue
    platform & accessibility
    Subscription vs infrastructure requires new budget approaches

    potential scneario, future means better security
    potentail scneario multi-platform approaches, future scenario, octopus model - one central hub but multipl wys moving violently
    potential scenario - less capital cost - transition of cost to subscription approaches. new economic models means work out new economic models

    Pros / cons
    Security, privacy, licenses
    Often providers have stronger security / privacy / redundancy SLAs than we require (amazon)
    Other times, they have not considered academic issues - important to read the Service Level Agreements
    Enhanced service
    Multi-platform support more common in SAAS solutions,
    Come at expense of customizability
    Is your environment right for cloud ( bandwidth, access - VPN)
    New IT model
    Subscription basis changes how libraries look at it
    Amazon Bezios quote - 70% into IT, 30% into innovation - should be flipped
    Current lack of diversity in maket, unequal service levels (Amazon still a clear leader in IAAS)
    Leveled playing field
    With new services smaller players can get into game
    Regardless new skills are required, systems are becoming more complex, moving into CC means all departments are effected
    IT - how to manage CC env.
    Content creators - how to publish / manage
    Administrators - how to allocate resources, plan, transition

  • Potential - cost savings, service agility, resource availability

    Future - redefined services

    Key risk - will the cloud decimate open source software?

    Questions - outsource or resource optimization, speed vs stability. Can your grandmother run your enterprise email server?

    Does not change the need for expertise - it allows organizations to leverage expertise for key mission

    potential cost savings, future is savings to commit to more projects
    potential service agility, future is ability to tailor to evolving and individual needs
    potentioal resource availability - free resources making more resources available, by outsourcing tedious procedures you get to focus on innovatiove ideas with patrons. focus on service, ideas, innovation.

    Theresa Rowe - three factors - cost savings, service agility, reousr4ce availability
    Information Management Systems - Core information systems that would benefit from subscription, agility, resource benefits of cloud support.
  • Potential = a new organization where online collaboration is easy

    future =digital meeting spaces, collaboration open content, hybrid, etc.
  • 1. Wrap-up
    CC may have a rosy future, poses opportunities and challenges to IT

    How do you take steps to understand and act on CC opportunities?

    In Short - take the position, craft a vision
    experiment, don't be afraid, go out and do it!

    libraries have historically been leaders in information and information technology

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