AoC Cloud Technology Conference – June 2013This paper provides highlights from the AoC Cloud Technology Conference and provides detail from Keynote speakers as well as information from a couple of the workshops, which were delivered from projectson the day.Included in this paper is the following: The role off JANET in delivering Cloud Services - Tim Marshall CEO JANET and Executive DirectorTechnology and Infrastructure JISC. Cloud Data Centre workshop - Paul Rolfe, head of Technology and Innovation, Highbury College,Portsmouth and Tim Lawrence, Solutions Architect, Eduserve. Managing the relationship with students in the Cloud - Robin Gadd Executive head of WessexEducation Shared Services Ltd and Peter Stone Information Systems manager at BrockenhurstCollege. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Cloud Technology Graham Elland, Head of IT Systems andStrategy, Leeds City College, Cailean Hargreave UK Education Lead IBM and Max Holden Collabcosoftware. Efficiency and Effectiveness. Making Cloud Computing work for Colleges - Matt Dean. TechnologyPolicy Manager, AoC.To view all the presentations and case studies from the day please go to www.aoc.co.uk/cloud-computing.co.uk“I learned the need to consider fully our existing Business and IT processes beforeconsidering moving any of this to the Cloud”Kalim Uddin, IT Support Manager, Waltham Forest College
Keynote Address:The role off JANET in delivering Cloud Services.Tim Marshall CEO JANET and Executive Director Technology and Infrastructure JISC.Tim Marshall has a previous media career which includes Disney and the BBC and was recently secondedto the Olympics. He has roots in FE having taken his A Levels and an HNC at a Further Education College.As CEO of JANET he places a high emphasis on a customer service approach. He highlighted AoC’s roleas a guarantor of the JANET Charity along with Universities and Guild HE.He summarised some key characteristics of cloud computing: Cloud computing brings many opportunities Data are relatively safe in the Cloud It can however be destructive, disruptive and changing technology Tim Marshall stated that he believed we will all be in the Cloud in 3 or 4 years Savings could be achieved, for example£11per user with Office in the CloudHe advocated the need for IT managers in Colleges to “know their numbers” and not leave this solely to theFinance Director.He referred to the Oaklands College cloud pilot. This involves Dell cloud testing of storage memory, CPUuse and e-mail. He emphasised that the decision to use the cloud was not a binary, all or nothing, one.Colleges can be selective in the applications which they migrate to the cloud.Tim Marshall went on to highlight the main risks as being financial, legal and security. He then focused onsecurity issues and whilst noting the risks, pointed out that data might be safer in the Cloud. He identifiedthe importance of location and stated that it is frightening what clever people can do on the internet and thatJANET is offering penetration testing services to combat this.Tim shared his view of the community of JANET users who are bound together for a common purpose.Shared his vision of developing this special relationship and how he was looking for ways to develop thisinnovative community.Funding and resilience identifying that JANET doesnt specify the size of the link to universities which canvary considerably between a research focused and a teaching university. Tim asked - how do we apply thisto Colleges? - With the desirable outcome being sufficient bandwidth and resilience. Whilst there are lots ofhoops to go through yet, Tim wants to make progress on this.In response to a question about the availability of skillsets to support migration to the Cloud, Timhighlighted the role of the JISC Regional Support Centres. An example cited was practical help to supportrouter configuration.Another question asked about coping with the risks in cloud computing and the need to satisfy governorsand senior managers in this respect. Tim identified that cloud is a state of the art technology and there wasa need to make a secure rational argument for it. However there was a need for governors not to be riskaverse. He highlighted the ill-informed paranoia in the press and with politicians that surrounded access todata in the Cloud, signing off with the statement:“Old fartism is a state of mind not of body!”“It is good to come to a conference where you can discuss affordablerealistic solutions”Russ Bevan, Head of ICT and Estates, Herefordshire College ofTechnology
Shared Best Practice Sessions.The core of the day involved a number of Shared Best Practice Sessions where Colleges, which had beenfunded by the Cloud Computing Project, shared their experiences in introducing different aspects of CloudComputing. Many of these sessions included contributions from Cloud Computing Partners who wereworking with Colleges. Summaries of a selection of these sessions are given below:1.1 Cloud Data CentrePaul Rolfe, head of Technology and Innovation, Highbury College, Portsmouth and Tim Lawrence,Solutions Architect, Eduserve.This session focused on how Highbury College was working with Eduserve initially to replace a secondarydata centre with a Cloud solution and ultimately to move specific applications to the Cloud. The backgroundof Eduserve was described, through its origins in Bath University and its key services in licencingagreements (CHEST), Identity and Access management (ATHENS) and Internet solutions. Eduserve hasits own data centre in Swindon with high quality JANET links.This project was enabling Eduserve to “feel their way” towards the Cloud services they might offer toColleges.The College has good senior management buy in to this project. The project is focused on the conversionof VMware to the Eduserve environment. Tim Lawrence from Eduseve had been brought in to build thecloud environment, replicating the VMware of the College at the Eduserve Swindon Data Centre. This wasagainst a background of the current challenges of replication of this at the College having heavy overheads.He described the technical details of achieving this through asynchronous replication, with the use ofregular checkpoints to achieve target recovery point objectives for groups of virtual protection groups. Thisis a Disaster Recovery rather than a back-up solution and at the same time enables Highbury College toprogressively run a range of services in the Cloud.In response to questions from delegates, Eduserve indicated that they might support other virtualtechnologies such as Hyper V Tim Lawrence confirmed the need to “do the homework” with respect tosoftware licensing agreements and the functionality of specific software in the Cloud. As regardsaspirations to move specific applications to the Cloud, Paul Rolfe indicated that this would include: the EBS MIS system Online examinations (discussions were taking place with Awarding Bodies)This work is all part of a strategy to widen access to information and services. At present services whichinclude Web services and ProAchieve are in the Cloud as test services.The low costs of working in this way, as distinct from replacing the secondary data centre in house, werehighlighted.Eduserve informed delegates that they were looking for other Colleges to work with them to pilot VMware inthe Cloud.“I gained an understanding of how, through the Cloud, appropriate users couldupdate/amend Information held on MIS, through a specific technical and culturalapproach used by Brockenhurst College”Celia Green, Personalised Learning Manager, Varndean College
2.1 Managing the relationship with students in the Cloud.Robin Gadd Executive head of Wessex Education Shared Services Ltd and Peter Stone InformationSystems manager at Brockenhurst College.Robin Gadd introduced the session with a summary of the background of Wessex Shared Services, wherea whole raft of back office services were being shared by six Colleges. This student relationship project wasinitially functioning in the cloud with two Colleges. He used graphs from Gartner research reports tohighlight the journey of cloud adoption and its key phases and where FE was with this. He identified theWessex Cloud Project as being a hybrid of the categories of Cloud applications in that it was using Azure tohost traditional College applications.He identified the key business benefits of moving to the Cloud as: Expenditure management – moving from CAPEX to OPEX Enhanced Cashflow Quality Improvement Greater service capacity and “getting it out of the way” Innovation and agility Enabling a College to focus on what it is good at Being able to outsource what doesn’t add valueHe shared the success of the College hosted Emily system which was a web based system whichaggregated enrolment, timetabling and examination data as a learner support system and had achieved ahigh degree of ownership by curriculum staff at Brockenhurst. This was now defunct and the applicationmoved to the cloud. The cloud application was built by an in-house development team of 2, with a highdegree of Microsoft experience. The application includes staff and student views and a Parent Portal view.There were 3 main challenges in achieving this; Getting the data up there, for example EBS using a synchronisation app Logins Synchronisation of the active directoryPeter Stone gave a live and well received demonstration of the staff view of the information on the system.This included all key information on students their attendance and grades. All of this was linked To EBSwhich is synced as a feed to Sequel Server Data in the Cloud. There is integration with Moodle, which isrunning in Azure.The Parents’ Perspective uses the 365 Parents’ Portal. Parents can view timetables, to see how their sons/daughters are progressing, their attendance and where and when their exams are and the results. Puttingthis in the Cloud has enabled the necessary scaling, particularly to provide a resilient service on examresults day where access peaks considerably.In response to questions from delegates it was confirmed that data synchronisation was run half-hourly andthat the development costs equated to about £60k per year for the skills of the two developers. Anotherquestion asked how the team had been able to allow users to feed information into the EBS from the web,as distinct from it being used as read only. This had proved a challenge with other MIS providers. It wasindicated that this was achieved through an agreed working arrangement with EBS. Robin Gaddsview wasthat it was best to allow this form of updating and simply to take the hit and amend data when somebodyhad done this incorrectly.Robin concluded the presentation with some interesting trends and other facts which included: The risks in that the data are out there somewhere, the need for this to be in a location where legaljurisdiction applies (EU) and the role of JISC Legal The need for trust and reliability in partnership working That there is a single point of failure That 11% of College Financial Directors are looking at the Cloud
The need to scope a business model and potential demand The need for Forensic Studies of IT costs in Colleges.3.2 Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Cloud TechnologyGraham Elland, Head of IT Systems and Strategy, Leeds City College, Cailean Hargreave UK EducationLead IBM and Max Holden Collabco software.Caileen Hargreave introduced this session in highlighting how IBM was working with Leeds City College tobring a virtual desk top to all learners at high speed at all times on any device anywhere. To date this wasbeing used on one campus of the College. He quoted that there were now more mobile devices in the worldthan toilets. This virtual desk top access was being achieved through a Private Cloud, hosted at theCollege. IBM was also working in this field with Birmingham Metropolitan College. Leeds City College hadrecently merged with other Colleges and this strategy would enable future uniform desktop access in all theconstituent Colleges. This approach also enabled wide digital marketing and analytics.Max Holden described how Collabco had a long standing record of working with the College and wasenabling the virtual desktop through 365. Collabco had carried out a survey with students on how theyreceived information with the two answers being through a browser or on a smartphone. He showed how aCollabco product called MyDay now delivers student informationTechnical approaches were discussed which covered how collaborative facilities are provided in Office 365and Moodle, how Sharepoint 2013 is used with Sharepoint online, Exchange online and Lync online andhow CRM Dynamics can be included as well as the Microsoft Academy. All of this enables “the tablet tobecome the College”. Key to the virtual desktop is the integration of many services accessed throughSingle Sign On.A live demonstration of the Windows 8 virtual desktop display and functionality was given. BusinessIntelligence can be accessed together with ProMonitor. The Virtual Desktop is delivered as a Windows 8App and also Android and Tablet apps. The product can be branded and skinned for Colleges. Examplesfrom Blackpool and The Fylde and Knowsley Colleges were shown. At present 7830 guest accounts havebeen created at Leeds City College.The need for confidence in moving from a private to a public cloud was highlighted, noting that there was aneed, in a project such as this, to start in control of a private cloud.In response to questions from delegates, it was indicated that the costs of the Private Cloud Infrastructurefor the pilot was in the region of £10k but would cost more for the full application. Some technical detailswere provided in that the IBM server was running Linux and Hypervisor. Some software licensing issueswere discussed which would need to be addressed in moving forwards from the pilot.Final Keynote Address.Efficiency and Effectiveness. Making Cloud Computing work for Colleges.Matt Dean. Technology Policy Manager, AoC.Matt provided an overview of the key issues in introducing cloud computing in Colleges together with somebackground on the processes in the cloud computing Project.He identified and expanded upon four key drivers for cloud computing being: Political Financial Organisational Technological
He raised a key question and an associated issue:“Why do so many organisations seem to rush lemming like to each new innovation only to abandon it whenit falls short on initial expectations?”“As with every other computing trend, the skill lies in harnessing the technology in an appropriate, safe,rational and timely manner, and everyone’s journey will necessarily reflect a bespoke mix of factors”He highlighted the key areas which Manager’s should be thinking about in relation to Cloud Computing: Understand the College’s business processes Assess which elements of your IT services could be moved into the Cloud Choose the right Cloud Services Provider for your College Work out how best to access the Cloud Provision services flexibility Determine the full range of services delivered from the Cloud and work out the most appropriate foryour College Use Cloud services like an extension to your IT Department Ensure that you make cloud solutions fit your core business and not the other way around.Finally Matt outlined the key role of AoC in this field and how Colleges could be supported. He describedthe role of the Technology in Learning Portfolio Group of Principals and Senior College Managers whichshares and identifies key IT related issues. He shared the work of the National MIS & IT and National LT &IT Groups and invited delegates to participate in events associated with these groups together with the ITRegional Network events. He described how this structure enables Colleges to share IT related issues at alllevels and to be well informed on them. He emphasised the important use of this structure to gatherevidence which is used to inform government policy decisions on IT in FE through AoC’s representation togovernment and membership of specific committees.In response to questions from the Chair and delegates, it was identified that MOOCS (Massive OpenOnline Courses) would be the “next big thing”. Matt noted the current 9% completion rate for MOOCS,which doesn’t fit well with the importance of Success Rates in FE. He identified that MOOCS might be moreapplicable to areas such as Functional Skills as distinct from Critical Thinking.A supplier raised the challenges of needing a clear institutional strategy to work within, which in hisexperience was not always the case. Matt identified the need for more of an intelligent client focus, whistrecognising the diversity of needs and views across Colleges.A College representative asked how sustainability for cloud computing in Colleges could be achieved. Mattresponded that the bidding process for the cloud computing project had placed these responsibilities withthe Colleges, noting that it might take 2 – 3 years to achieve a return on investment. Lesley Templeman,the Cloud Computing Programme Manager, informed delegates that AoC would be carrying out someresearch on this area in the Autumn.Exhibitors.The conference was well supported by 6 Cloud Computing related Exhibitors who attracted wide interestfrom the delegates. These were: Capita IT Managed Solutions, Collabco - a Cloud Solution Provider. IAMCloud – a specialist in Identity Management, Janet, Microsoft and Salford Software – an Identity andAccess management specialist.