Cloud Computing for Higher Education

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Glossary of term

  1. Acknowledgment

 

  1. Abstract

 

  1. Introduction

 

3.1 Research – objectives

3.2 Research – Implementation of Use case real-scenario

3.3 Structure of the research

  1. Background and literature Research

 

  1. What is Cloud Computing
  2. Cloud Computing Across Industry
  3. Cloud Computing adoption in Financial Industry
  4. Cloud Computing adoption in Retail Industry
  5. Cloud Computing adoption in Healthcare Industry
  6. Cloud Computing adoption in Manufacturing Industry
  7. Cloud Computing adoption in Education Industry
  8. Cloud Service Provider Solution (CSPS) Case Study in Education (Cisco/Microsoft/VMware/Citrix/Amazon)
  1. Impact of Cloud Computing in the Institute of Technology of Sligo

 

  1. Institute of Technology of Sligo Brief History
  2. Cloud computing solution implemented within the Institute of Technology of Sligo
  3. Consolidation of Physical Server infrastructure into Virtual Server Technology
  4. Implementation of cloud-based solution for students email ,Microsoft Office 365
  5. Desktop as a Service solution (virtual Desktop Infrastructure) for Computing Courses in the School of Engineering
  1. Implementation Plan of Virtual Desktop solution

 

  1. Implementation-Plan (this will cover with advantages and challenges encounter during setup and implementation).
  2. Demonstration Technical Aspect
  3. Future plans
  1. Analysis
    1. Research Methodology
  • Survey  (Staff)
  • Survey (student)
    1. Analysis of Online Student and Staff survey

 

  1. Conclusion and Perspective

2. Abstract

Cloud Computing has become an adoptable and innovative technology for many organization around the world and changed the way IT infrastructure can be delivered and managed. When we are talking about cloud computing we refer basically to computing resources (hardware and software) that organization and users, across the various industry, can access without the need to know exactly where that hardware and software is physically located. Its dynamic scalability and usage of the virtualized resources as a services accessible through the internet have been a great impact in the industry today. Cloud computing it is likely to have a significant impact on the education environment now and in the future. Education Institute around the world through cloud computing can provision services in the Cloud and providing staff and student with a flexible pay as you go scalable computing service. In these services are including infrastructure, software, hardware and storage on demand and easily deployed when required. With cloud computing technology, Education institution have an opportunity to concentrate more into teaching programme and research activities, rather than the IT infrastructure. Moreover in a time of budget cuts and limited funding in the public sector, cloud computing give the opportunity to educational Institutions to implement a different way of spending money for IT infrastructure and services with a flexible pays per usage. This research paper is exploring the potential use and impact of cloud computing technologies as support to student and staff for learning in the higher education in Ireland. The research will be focusing specifically on the Institute of technology of Sligo in Ireland and it’s identify the types of cloud computing technologies solution implemented within the college, focusing in the project of desktop as a service as use case real-scenario, delivered for computing level 8 courses in the school of Engineering. The research paper will explore the IT transformation that brought the IT Sligo College from a traditional physical IT infrastructure, to implement solution such as virtual server, Cloud-based Email services and Desktop as a service with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). With the explosion in the recent years of mobile device such as tablets, laptops, and smartphone there is a requirement from students and staff within the Institute of Technology of Sligo to provide anytime/anywhere computing resources and accessibility with zero downtime. The research paper will identify the effectiveness, if any in using VDI solution for teaching purpose for students and lectures.

3. Introduction

Today society is highly influenced by technology and cloud computing is changing our lives in many different ways. If we looks at company such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube we can see how people nowadays interact to each other’s. Moreover today industry in different sectors are facing with challenges unlike any in the past because technology is moving faster and thanks to cloud computing is more connected than ever before. This bring industries into a competitive global environment to refine the ways to do business and cloud computing for many years, has been the key of this businesses evolution. Education is one of those industries impacted by cloud computing technologies and in the current financial crisis and being challenged by growing needs, can be consider a valid alternative to institution that  are facing problem in providing necessary information technology support for student, staff, research and development activities. With cloud computing, organization can have a highly scalable IT infrastructure were the pillar structure is a technology such as virtualization, where resources can be dynamically allocated as per request by the users and shared between a pool of users. Students and academic don’t need any particular background knowledge and through internet can access resources and exchange information between themselves. Such technology will likely have a significant impact on teaching and learning environment.

  1.       Research – Objectives

This research it exploring the impact and potential use of cloud computing technology as a support to students learning within education institutes. Because the time frame, the nature of the project implemented and also the accessibility to data needed for the success of the research, this project will focus on the Institute of Technology of Sligo in Ireland as benchmark.  If we look at the definition of Cloud Computing:

“Cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing resources, everything from application to data centres, over the internet on a pay-for-use basis” [1], offering several advantages such as:

  • Elastic resources – Scale up and down quickly and easily to meet demand form users
  • Metered Services – So the users can pay only for what they use
  • Self Service – All the IT resources users need can be access by a self-service portal

While this definition provides and insight it what it is, it does not identify is it off value to the students and lectures in term of supporting learning. What is known is that the rise of interest in this technology is in direct response to the current financial climate, where public sector and education institute budgets cuts are face challenges and problem to provide necessary information technology infrastructure to support efficiently educations [2]. The introduction of cloud computing technology, is believed to make achievable for the Institute of Technology of Sligo to reduce capital expenditure for the provisioning of information technologies infrastructure to students and staff. Over the last number of years the institute of technology of Sligo implemented several cloud computing technology solution successfully:

  • Consolidation servers through Virtual Server Implementation
  • Microsoft Office 365 for student
  • Cloud storage Data (HEAnet)
  • Desktop as a Service (Citrix Virtual Desktops Infrastructure or simple VDI)

This research will examine if these technologies have matched the expectation focusing majorly on use-case real scenario of the Desktop as a Service solution and the effectiveness to support student learning outcomes. The research will try to answer question such as:

  • What are the experience of the students using the VDI solution?
  • What are the experience of the Lectures using the VDI solution?
  • Does VDI provide a no Downtime solution were students can connect anytime/anywhere with the resources the institute provides?
  • Does VDI provide more standardised IT infrastructure easy and fast to deploy?
  • What are the challenges for the Institute to implement this new technology?
  • What was the input to decide to move to the Cloud Computing Technology?

Empirical data will be collected within a quantitative methodology, using a survey questionnaire sent to students and lectures in the Institute of Technology of Sligo.

Participants of the study will include students and lectures who have actively engaged in this technology over the last year. The questionnaire will explore their opinion on the benefit of Desktop virtual solution and if this technology can enhance learning/ teaching experience for courses taught in class and online, considering the in demand of online courses.

  1.       Research – Implementation of use case real-scenario

In this research I will describe a use case real-scenario that I designed and implemented for the School of Engineering as pilot, for computing courses taught online and in class. The project consisted in building a private cloud that provide students and lectures with a dedicated virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI), using a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) model. The VDI will offer to student and academic staff that are part of the pilot, a persistent highly available virtual Desktop with Microsoft Windows 10 Installed. The Virtual Desktops can be accessed through secure internet access (HTTPS) from inside and outside the college network. The solution it is highly independent from hardware and software constraint, in fact the VDI doesn’t care if you are using a PC, tablet, Apple computer or a Linux machine, etc. As long the student and lecture have a solid internet connection they can access their own VDI from everywhere/anytime. Of course this solution offer huge potential and benefit not only to student and staff, but also to IT employee in managing such infrastructure. Below you can see some benefit of VDI:

  • Management – VDI will have a central management of all the desktops deployed and really control what is being installed and used on desktops. Also deployments of a VDI is  faster than using technology such as Norton or Microsoft configuration manager to re-image an entire physical labs of PC’s or simply pushing out software updates, simply because this need to be pushed to every single physical machine. In the VDI environment what you really need to update is only the master Image and with one click all the changes will be propagated to all the virtual desktop deployed.
  • Security – with a VDI IT staff will have a greater control on how secure the desktop. For example a master image can be lock down from external devices or prevent copying data from the image to the local machine. Also all the sensitive data is stored on the server in the data centre and not on the device itself used to access the Virtual Desktop.
  • OS Migration – With VDI IT department can deploy VDI with new O/S and do all the test needed  prior put the solution in production
  •  Going Green – using a VDI the College can reduce the carbon footprint and cutting cost of power. For example the College for some labs where VDI is implemented, could install Thin Client instead of a traditional PC’s, which typically consume less power than traditional PCs, reducing the cost of power consumption.
  • VDI image – With VDI I can create several Images for each schools to support courses and module with the proper application. In the case of the Institute of Technology of Sligo we could build 4 different images one for each school (Business, Engineering, Computing, Science).

As you can see there are many benefits to implement a VDI solution within the Institute of technology of Sligo from the technical and practical point of view. However implementing this solution has been very challenging as well and for several reasons. In first place there is the technical aspect on which hardware to implement and  build the actual VDI solution, going  for Hyper-converge infrastructure, or a much more traditional server cluster with an external shared storage (ISCSI, Fibre channel (FC), Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), Network attached Storage (NAS)). The next challenge is the planning of the VDI deployment for students and lectures. Because the nature of the business that is education, all the different courses that took part in this pilot project uses different software, and for this project I decide to implement a single master image with Microsoft Windows 10, with all the software installed needed for each course module. The last step is how the users will access the resources from inside and outside the college, and what I tried to achieve here can be define by the word simplicity. I try to make this solution as simpler as I could for student and staff to access, through a secure Internet connection. Based where the student is connected, from inside or outside the college, will be re-direct to the proper secure webserver for authentication. The webserver interface for the outside campus network connection and the inside campus network connection, has been modified to look alike, to make this process hidden to the users. The authentication is single sign on (SSO) and the students and lectures can use their own credential that they are using to access the college campus network, eliminating any additional username or password.

  1.       Structure of the research

The structure of this research follows a typical research structure. In chapter 4 will give an in depth description of cloud computing concept, characteristics, service models and deployment models. In this chapter will discuss also literature research related to the impact of cloud computing across industries. The five industries analysed are Financial, Healthcare, Retailers, Manufacturing and Education, with particular emphasis in the Education industry. The background literature research will also describe some use-case real scenario of company and organization that implemented cloud computing technology with benefits and challenges encounter in the transition from a traditional information technology infrastructure to a cloud computing infrastructure.  In chapter 5 I will present the impact of cloud computing technology in the Institute of technology of Sligo and a roadmap that brought the college from an IT physical infrastructure to implement a VDI solution for students and Lectures. In this chapter will draw particular attention to the VDI project implemented for students and Lectures and also a brief introduction of future plans for cloud computing technology within the Institute of Technology of Sligo. In Chapter 6 I will describe the implementation plan of the VDI solution. Methodological approaches and analysis are presented in chapter 7. Empirical data have been collected within a quantitative methodology, using a survey questionnaire sent to students and academic staff in the Institute of Technology Sligo. Participants of the study included students and lectures who have actively engaged in this technology over the last year. The questionnaire will explore their opinion on the benefit of the VDI solution implemented and if this technology can enhance learning/ teaching experience considering the in demand of online courses. Will finish the research thesis with chapter 8 were I will discuss perspective and conclusion of the thesis.

 

4. Background and Literature Research

This chapter is dedicated to the background and literature research and because this research is about Cloud Computing Technology, will start in section 4.1 with an in depth description of what is Cloud Computing and all the different model that can be implemented. From section 4.2 to 4.7 I will describe the use of cloud computing across different industry such as Financial, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retailers and Education. In each industry section I will describe, with the support of use-case real scenario, the benefits but also the challenges encounter for each customer, in implementing cloud computing solutions and re-design the traditional business model. Will finish this chapter with the section 4.8 related to Cloud Service Provider (CSP) offering cloud computing solution to Education customer. This section will show that the interest in re-design the traditional business model in Education is not only from the Institution perspective, but also the big company  in Information Technology industry, such as Microsoft such as VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Cisco, Amazon and many more,  have a major interest in getting involved.

  1.       What is Cloud Computing?

If we look at the definition of Cloud Computing by the National Institute of Standard and Technology NIST 2011 States:

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics: On-demand self-service, Broad network access, Resource pooling. Rapid elasticity and measured service.”[3]

This Cloud model is composed from 5 essential characteristics, three service model and four different deployments model. The 5 essential characteristics are:

Resource pooling – The CSP (Computing Service Providers) pooled all the resources to serve multiple consumers in a multi-tenant model, with physically and virtually resources allocated and released dynamically, according with the consumer demand. There is a sense of Location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but maybe able to specify location at higher level of abstraction (ex. Country, State, or Datacentre). Example of resources include storage, processing, memory and network bandwidth.

On-demand Self-service–  A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.

Broad network access – Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanism that promote use by heterogeneous thin or tick client platform (ex. Mobile phone, tablet, laptop, and workstation)

Rapid elasticity – Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time

Measured Service – Cloud System Automatically control and optimize resources use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (ex. Storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user account). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled and reported, provisioning transparency for both the provider and the consumer of the utilize service

A Cloud Computing Services can be deploy in 4 different deployment model Public, Private, Hybrid and Community:

 

Public Cloud – In this deployment the Cloud Infrastructure is provisioned for open use by the general public. It may be owned, managed, and operated by a business, academic, or government organization, or the combination of them. The public Cloud exists on the premises of the cloud provider

Private Cloud – The Cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organizations, it maybe owned, managed, and operated by the organization, a third party, or some combination of them and it may exist on or off premises

Community Cloud – The  cloud  infrastructure  is provisioned for exclusive  use  by  a  specific  community of  consumers  from  organizations that have shared  concerns (e.g., mission, security   requirements,   policy,    and   compliance   considerations).   It   may   be   owned, managed,  and  operated by one  or  more  of the  organizations in  the  community, a  third  party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.

Hybrid Cloud  – The   cloud   infrastructure   is   a   composition   of   two   or   more   distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities,  but are bound together by  standardized  or  proprietary  technology  that  enables  data  and  application  portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).

Apart the Model, Cloud can be implemented to offer services to an Organization over the network in three different ways:

IaaS Infrastructure as Service: This is a Cloud model that gives the capability to the customer to provide or provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources, where the customer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software that can include operating systems (O/S) or applications. The Customer with this service model does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over the operating system, storage, and deployed applications and possibly in some cases limited control of selected networking component like for example hosts firewall.  Example of Service provider for IaaS are Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud), Rackspace Cloud, SoftLayer.

PaaS Platform as a Service: Withthis Service Model the Customer has the capabilities to deploy applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools that are provided by the cloud infrastructure itself. The customer with this service model implementation does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including, network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has the control of the deployed applications and possibly some of the configuration settings for the application-hosting environment. Example of PaaS Cloud solution can be Google App Engine, Microsoft Azure, and CloudBees.

SaaS Software as a Service: This mode Service gives the Customers the ability to run application, services and store data in a cloud infrastructure. The application can be accessible from any client device through either PC, Tablet, Laptop, or Thin Client. Customer can access the service through web server or program interface. In this service model the consumer or customer doesn’t manage or control the underlying hardware cloud infrastructure that include network, Servers, Operating System, Storage or specific application configuration settings. This is probably one of the most used Cloud service, example of SaaS are Google Docs, Dropbox, and Office 365. Below you can see a picture that will give you an overview of the Cloud infrastructure layer stack with the different deployment model and service model that customer could implement:

Figure 1: NIST definition of Cloud Computing [3]

When we are talking about Cloud we often hear the term Cloud infrastructure, and this is very important aspect to understand because customer and providers share responsibility over it. A cloud computing infrastructure is a collection of hardware and software, that enables the 5 key characteristics of the Cloud Computing “Resource pooling, on-demand Self, Broad network access, Rapid elasticity, Measured Service”. The Cloud infrastructure can be viewed as containing both a physical layer and an abstraction layer. The physical layer is the hardware resources that are necessary to support the cloud services provided and include storage, servers, and network component. The abstraction layer instead is the software deployed across the physical layer that manifest the cloud characteristic and sits above the physical layer [3]. This concept is very important to understand for organization that decide to move to a Cloud Environment because draw the line also about responsibility in the Cloud environment. If we think about IT infrastructure prior cloud computing technology, data typically reside in the organization own servers, storage and network components where the organization itself has full control of the entire system as whole from the software, hardware, maintenance, including the physical access to the data centre. On the other hand, when moving to a cloud environment, the customer data, application and services, are stored on the cloud, were the physical infrastructure is fully controlled by the Cloud Service Provider  (CSP) (customer can always decide to implement a private cloud in house but the cost will be high).  This model in which responsibility is shared, can trigger many question marks in term of security and privacy. Below you can see tables that highlight the responsibility from consumers and providers, in the different model services of the cloud:

Figure 2: NIST Consumers/Provider activities [3]

Figure 3: Cloud stack service model responsibilities

Cloud Computing has changed all the IT infrastructure landscape and how organizations are delivering services and application to customers. Organization can get many benefits through the implementation of cloud computing-based services. In particular, they become more agile, and get easier to expand into new business area, offering more service and mostly reduce the cost of IT infrastructure that in today financial climate is the biggest challenge for Chief Information Officer (CIO). An interesting study of IBM “The Essential CIO” in 2011 [4], show how CIO and their organization are accelerating change and complexity to mark the competitive economic today landscape. This study consist on interviewing 3018 CIOs over 71 different country in 18 different industries. Cloud computing gives the opportunity for CIOs and organization to shift their budget for IT infrastructure from capital expenditure (CAPEX) were a budget is allocate in advanced for software/hardware infrastructure, to operational expenditure (OPEX) were an organization will pay by the usage of the Cloud service, cutting some intensive cost in hardware/software/maintenance. In the next chapter I will analyse the adoption of cloud computing across various industries.

  1.       Cloud Computing adopted across varies Industries

Cloud computing is a fast growing industry that affect more and more Enterprise IT strategies. However industries are looking at the cloud not only to address IT function but also to help them to gain advantages as their specific industries evolve and how they will best position themselves to succeed in this changing environment. Every industries sector from Banking to Retailer to Healthcare in the past few years have started dealing with the cloud while seeking to retain the compliance, safety and performance standards for more mature technology options, see figure 4 [5].

Figure 4. Industries use of Cloud Computing (Source Gartner May 2012).

As with any new technology, cloud carries risks (such as noncompliance with regulations concerning data security) and opportunities (such as greater efficiency compared the traditional environment). As we can see from the above table most industries today use the cloud computing for necessary office and support such as emails, with the implementation of Software as a Service (SaaS) (ex. Microsoft Office 365 or Gmail). However, in the last few years, industries start to explore the cloud computing as an opportunity to improve their own business, this is the case of retailers with e-Commerce that use Platform as a Service (PaaS) to support the increasing demand of e-commerce request over holidays season such as Christmas. Another industry that in recent years has adopted the cloud computing technology is the healthcare with the sharing of medical records and the archives of medical images through cloud-based management systems. Also manufacturers industry look at the cloud for product development, lifecycle management and some key manufacturing operations. Recently VMware in collaboration with the Economist and the Intelligence Unit publish the following report, “Ascending cloud: The adoption of cloud computing in five industries” published in March 2016 [6]. This report is based on a global survey of 360 Senior Executive that are familiar with Cloud Computing in their own industry. The five key industries described in the report, that are moving towards Cloud Computing Solution are, Financial Services, Retailing, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Education. The implementation of Cloud Computing Technology in these industries came with several challenges, from the data security to the needs of qualified personnel to build and operate the Cloud Computing Infrastructure. At the same time Cloud Computing offer new ways for each of the 5 industry to expand their own business and lower costs. Below you can see a brief analysis of the adoption of cloud computing solution in the five industries mention above, but also will describe the importance and impact cloud computing solution will have in supporting each business in these five different industry.

  1.      Cloud Computing adoption in Financial Industry
Over the years Financial Institution, used Cloud –based Solution for non-Core Services like virtualization for data centre consolidation, storage and Disaster recovery solution, but in the recent years the Banking Industry start to implement Cloud-based solution for Core Services. With Cloud Computing Banking Industry found a new way of expanding and offering their own services. As you can see from the ascending Cloud report in figure 5 [6], the banking industry have found new way to increase their own business in more efficient way and in the same time lowering the cost for infrastructure.

Below you can see case studies example of Banks that move to a cloud based solution for Core Services.

Temenos Bank, Mexico

In May 2011 banking software provider Temenos in Mexico in collaboration with Microsoft as part of a new strategy for put

Figure 5. Cloud Computing Support in Banking Industry

Cloud-based core system in place, they migrate their own T24 core banking system onto the     Microsoft Cloud, Windows Azure development platform [7].The first implementation of T24 on Windows Azure went live in May 2011 in six Microfinance Institutions located in different regions in Mexico. Because the solution was Cloud based, the financial institutions gain financial advantages in cutting cost for infrastructure and a more efficient and scalable solution able to increase volume on demand.

Deutsche Bank

The adoption of Cloud computing has been implemented also by large financial Institute, this is the case of Deutsche Bank that signed a 10 year outsourcing deal with HP to implement a private cloud [8]. In the agreement HP will be offer a dedicated data centre services on demand that include storage, platform and hosting. Deutsche Bank with the implementation of Cloud Computing will be able to standardise the infrastructure without legacy system and in the same time lowering the cost. With a modern and agile infrastructure the Bank will be able to expand their own market with the launch of new products and services.

Goldman-Sachs

Another Worldwide Bank embrace the change toward Cloud Computing Technology is Goldman –Sachs. In this interview [9], the Head of Technology at Goldman-Sacks Don Duet, explain the opportunities in the public Cloud for banking industries. In this interview Don Duet highlight how with the traditional infrastructure in house they reached a certain size and scale of technology investment that forced them to consider how agile really they were. The demand from customer and from the market to be more responsive and agile in conjunction with lowering the cost of ownership, push the bank to implement Cloud solution services. So they start to invest in Virtual-desktop solution environment so that people would have access to the firm’s application and services wherever they were. In the past four years the Technological division focused on implementing internal Cloud and became more agile and efficient. For example if no one is using computing power in the branch in Japan, they can free up that processing power for the people that need it in other part of the world. In 2016 Goldman-Sachs 85 % of the distributed workload is running on the Cloud. Also Don Duet highlight the benefits of implementing Cloud Environment in term of manage the infrastructure and launch new product or services compared to the traditional environment:

We’ve also moved from an environment in which it could take months to launch or update an application to where it now takes days, sometimes even minutes. We have teams that provision and manage the cloud infrastructure, independent of all the different consumers that are coming. They can assess demand and plan capacity based on actual consumption and known business opportunities.” [9].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1.      Cloud Computing adoption in Retails Industry

Figure 6. Cloud Computing Support in Retail  Industry

Another industries were the Cloud Computing help to develop new market opportunities and expand their own business is the retail industry. In the figure 6 you can see the importance of Cloud Computing technology in Retail industry. As you can see also for this industry there is a common trend saw in the previous banking sector, such as opportunities to grow the Business and in the same time reducing costs for goods and services. The benefit of Cloud Computing for retail include the Flexibility to scale up and down when required, it is cost-effective for streamlined operations, can generate real-time reporting and quicker speed the market. For example retailers in the past had to sort loads of data internally and externally looking for insights pattern to help them to make critical merchandising decision. Today with Cloud Computing Technology they can

generate report in real-time to help to understand consumers and with the help of mobile

application implemented through the cloud give the ability to the consumer to buy whenever and wherever they want.  Cloud computing technology in the Retail industry will address major area such as [10]:

  • Innovation – Retail industry it is very competitive sector that evolve constantly and the industry need to be able to the keep pace to remain competitive in the market and have the ability to offer unique services and product.
  • Agility – Been agile in the market and the economic climate today is a key factor that enable rapid development and deployment of new solution
  • Cost – Is a key factor in every industry and Cloud Computing it is a cost effective solution for retailers to build capabilities that can attract consumer.

Below we can see some use-cases example on how Cloud Computing Technology helped retailers businesses.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market is an online start up that sells organic food and beauty products. Using AWS (Amazon) Cloud Computing they were able to deploy a very high-scalable solution that helped the company to grow up to $100 Million in Revenue in 14 months [11].

Graze

Graze is a company that sells healthy snacks initially by subscription service, in UK only were customer will receive the goods in the mail. But since then expanded in the US and added a Web store in the Cloud which customer can buy snacks directly. At the moment Graze employ over hundreds of people with an annual revenue of US$100 million. The Chief Technological officer (CTO) Edd Read, that is also one of the original founder, explained that since the beginning they saw the potential of Cloud Computing Technology in this market “We’ve never had physical servers. We’ve always used the cloud as a flexible way to spin up servers and store data.”[12]. Graze Company infrastructure initially uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) with the implementation of web and database servers. Recently Graze migrate many parts of its infrastructure from Amazon EC2 to a various services managed by AWS, such as all the database moved to Amazon Relational Database Services (Amazon RDS), Amazon Cloud front handle all the incoming traffic for its subscription site and online Shop, Amazon Elastic Cache used for database caching and Amazon virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) for its virtual private network connection. The CTO explain this migration from EC2 into different services managed by AWS because they didn’t want treat AWS as just another data centre and there was no reason to run their own database, domain name system when AWS offers and managed all those services. In doing this the Company got highly flexible and able quickly to understand what’s working and what’s not. Also the implementation of Cloud Front reduce the hits on the web platform by 40% and increase the Cache hit rate by 99%. This saved money to the company and make significant difference to the speed of the website, that for Consumers buying Online is a plus [12].

Arena Flower

Arena Flower is a UK-based online retailer of flower and gifts. As today the company serves Europe and U.S. form Website including ArenaFlowers.cm and ArenaFleurs.com. Since started the Company quickly grew and their own infrastructure that was a hosted infrastructure and running into a fixed-box  start experiencing capacity and performance issue , they need to found a new technology that support fast scalability, fast support and flexibility. After researching several option they opted to move Arena flower into AWS and it worked very well. After the initial trial with AWS they decide to move the entire infrastructure to AWS and now the company run entirely in AWS. The CTO Sam Barton highlight the benefits of the migration to AWS such as expand business, the ability to deploy resources instantly if needed especially during holidays were they have a massive orders spike and in the same time reducing the cost of infrastructure compare to the old system they used to have in place [13].

 

Delta Inc.

Delta Inc. is one of the largest Clothing department store in Brazil. In 2010 was elected the tenth most valuable brand in Brazil and it was one of the first major companies in Brazil to adopt Cloud computing technology. Approximately 40% of the infrastructure and service of the company are allocated to public and private Clouds. The moves to the Cloud was dictated by different factors such as reliability, scalability and cost savings. Scalability was considered very important in the adoption of the cloud because based on the time of the year they could be very busy as the IT manager explain “We are very seasonal, retail is very seasonal, for example at Christmas I need a lot of capacity and in the middle of the year, January or February the request will slow down and so the workload. So having this flexibility is very important” [14].

  1.      Cloud Computing adoption in Healthcare Industry
Cloud Computing with the unique characteristic of scalability, online delivery of software and virtual hardware services such as virtual servers , virtual storage devices which can lift organization with the competence of own,  maintain and updated their software and hardware infrastructure, open new possibility also in Industry such as Healthcare. During past few years Healthcare industries realized the potential of Cloud Computing technology and this accelerate the way healthcare industry can use or share  information across the network. In the past Healthcare organization workflows consist of paper medical records, duplicate test, film-based radiological images, handwritten notes, very fragmented IT system infrastructure and the sharing across different healthcare provider was inefficient and data portability very rare. Healthcare organization rely on very outdated technology for their communication and very difficult to scale [15].

Figure 7. Cloud Computing Support in Healthcare  Industry

With this traditional Technology Healthcare organization requires elaborate infrastructure and manpower to run. So to reduce the cost and capitalize on technology investment  now and in the future , healthcare organization need an integrated technology that can helps all the diverse entities of the Healthcare organization to collaborate and communicate in much more efficient way. The Cloud Computing Technology helps hospital and healthcare providers to use resources on a pay per use model which like in other industry saw before will avoid heavy capital expenditure on buying and deploying expensive infrastructure and transform the CAPEX budget in OPEX budget.  With the adoption of Cloud Computing Technology in hospital and Healthcare providers, we start to see a rapid adoption of electronic health records where users have access to the data and application they need on demand and from any location. This also enhance the sharing of record between different Hospital and Healthcare providers and consequently data portability. The implementation of Cloud Computing however raise few concerns, such as the patient data confidentiality/privacy and security issue, that weighing down the adoption of Cloud Computing Technology in Healthcare industry. As patient data reside in a Cloud Service Provider that is not the Hospital own facility, there is a concern that potential sensitive data can been stolen, misused, or fall in the wrong hand. That’s why technology vendors have to build robust security and disaster recovery solution into the cloud technology, to make sure that all the administrative and clinical data are securely and safely maintained.  Another big challenges for Healthcare organization that decide to move to the Cloud is the implementation of the infrastructure itself. Healthcare infrastructure have been dependent on legacy systems and processed many of which are outdated and not efficient so modernise this infrastructure require funds that in the current economic climate are not easy to find also there is a traditional resistance to implement new technology in Healthcare organization and the stakeholders need a significant amount of support from the technological partners to manage the change and ensure a smooth transition to the new system, and processes. More and more vendors in the Healthcare industry are offering Cloud Based solution and with the implementation of Cloud solution such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Healthcare organization will reduce cost for the internal infrastructure and in the same time increase agility in provisioning orchestrating and managing applications and infrastructure. As the Cloud adoption evolves in the Healthcare Industry we can expect more and more Healthcare services to move into the cloud and this will help Healthcare providers providing a cost effective and efficient services.

Medical Image Analysis (MIA) Oxford

Medical Image Analysis (MIA) researcher at Oxford, are working in the implementation and deployment of a new software solution for image of Colorectal and Liver Cancer that will be delivered with Cloud Computing Framework Design. The idea is to create a data repository along all the research centre and universities in UK to preserve and share research data. Within Cloud Computing, End-users through a Web services can fully interact with the data stored in a central repository. Because the nature of the interaction is working and manipulate images the researcher suggest to use Thin Client (Thin Client is stateless desktop terminal that has no hard drive and used to access virtualized resources such as virtual desktop and virtual application) for low level of interaction and desktop for images require high visualization. The solution propose solution has been developed with Microsoft software technologies. This project was funded by the Technical Computing Initiative of Microsoft Corporation [16]

Harvard Medical School Case Study

In 2006 Doctor Peter Tonnellato that is the head of the Centre for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, Turned to Cloud Computing to address the complex and highly  variable computational needed. In his statements Doctor Tonnellato says “I evaluated several alternatives but found nothing as flexible and robust as Amazon Web Services”. The scope of the whole project was to build a flexible testing models infrastructure for the Biomedical Data collection and processing, using Amazon Web Server. The benefits in building this type of infrastructure in the Cloud is that will allow the Team to focus more time and energy on the simulation part rather that what technology to implement to get quickly results [17].

Telstra (3G Mobile Operator Telstra) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)

Telstra and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RACGP) they signed an Agreement of partnership to launch e-health applications on a web-hosted platform. The Strategies for the e-health was pushed by the government with an investment of AUD460 million. One of the Biggest challenges for the e-health was to achieve a more coherent and integrated approach to sharing information across 1300 hospitals, 20000 GP and specialist practise and 5000 pharmacies. The Royal Australian College of general Practitioners are looking at Software as a Services (SaaS) e-health portal. This implementation will provide integration benefits between all the different healthcare organization mention before , hospital, GP and pharmacies, but also will be able to plugin new GPs into a robust computing solution utility . Telstra will be responsible to build the SaaS e-health portal [18].

  1.      Cloud Computing adoption in Manufacturing Industry
It is a fact that cloud computing it is changing the way industries and enterprise implement and re-shape their business, and Manufacturing industries has been heavily impacted by Cloud Computing Technology. The Traditional manufacturing businesses has been transformed in a new business model that align product innovation with business strategy and can create factory networks that will encourage collaboration and make key decision and automate business processes. Also consumer’s goods and high tech manufactures are adopting cloud applications and services for new product development, a clear example is in manufacture industries such as aerospace, defence and automotive industries. Implementation of Cloud computing technology in manufacturing industries depends also from the nature of the application, the size and type of the manufacturer.

Figure 8. Cloud Computing Support in Manufacturing  Industry

Because Manufacturer industries is a very vast industries that include loads of product from foods process to creation of machines and equipment and some types of manufacturer industries are more mature and ready to move into cloud computing technology than others. Either way Cloud Computing Technologies, as the previous industries described in this chapter, can reduce the operating cost and gain in efficiency and agility.From the Gartner Report in 2012 “A Quick Look at Cloud Computing in manufacturing industry” [19], we can see that Manufacturing Industries while adopted widely Software as a Service (SaaS) for back-office workload such as managing HR, Sales Support and logistic, they have been quite slow to adopt cloud-based solution for new product development and life cycle management. This is because the adoption of Cloud-based solution for new product and life Cycle management depends of the type of industry, the nature of the application, and the size of the manufacturer. The size of the manufacturer specifically in some cases dictate the adoption of Cloud Computing Technology, in fact large industries in the categories of Automotive, Defence, Consumer Goods, high-Tech, Life Science and Aerospace they have much greater resources and network bandwidth to implement change management associated with Cloud technology because the investments to make the changes would be significant. So many Small-Mid size Business (SMBs) even realizing the advantages of the cloud-based solution for the product life cycle management (PLMs) and the launch and development of new products, are discourage by the cost to get started and transform the traditional business model. But is not only the cost that in some cases stop the adoption of Cloud Computing in the manufactured industries, another big concern is the security aspect of Cloud Computing Technology. However the adoption of Cloud Computing Technology in this industry is growing fast and this is because businesses in our globalized, distributed and agile demanding society, are becoming more and more IT-dependent. Moreover in Manufacturing industry there is high pressure on the businesses itself, caused by huge competition and the most successful competitors today are the ones who can link customer and supplier together in a very tight and integrated network. At the same time loads of companies start to realize that in order to have a global reach and quickly make important marketing decision the traditional model business need to be innovated, became more agile and the Key to do that can be identify in the Cloud Computing Technology [20].

 

Đuro Đaković Termoenergetska Postrojenja (DDP TEP)

DDP TEP Company is a leading Croatian manufacturer of boiler pressure parts, is optimizing its operations with a move to the cloud. The Company start to consider a disaster recovery (DR) solution on the cloud because in 2016 they had a fire that almost damage the server room with the potential loss of customer and contract data. The DR solution implemented was on Microsoft Azure and according with the IT manager has been not only safe and secure but also a very cost-effective solution. The next implementation project for the Cloud is to move all the users e-mail on Office 365 [21].

Crystal Group

Crystal Group is a garment manufacturer in Hong Kong and they are modernizing their own workplace and embrace mobility to meet the challenges of accelerated sales cycles and more complicated orders from global customer. The Company deploying windows 10 O/S to the entire workforce and using Microsoft Azure cloud-based solution services to enable anytime anywhere productivity.  According to Anne Lam, Manager Information Services Department at Crystal Group “Customers want our designers to come to their local office to work with them … so mobility was key for our Windows 10 apps. Everyone loves the flexibility they get from working on whatever device is best suited to the situation.” With this solution the Company can have prototype samples ready in a very short time-to-market.  The business Company run on Microsoft Technologies, and the interoperability of Microsoft server, desktop, and cloud technologies makes it easy for the Company to scale up standard solutions to work in the 21 factories around the world [22].

 

Hagler systems

Hagler systems is a small company with the headquarter in Augusta Georgia, it is a fairly small company with 100 employees dedicated to creating large custom mining and dredging equipment to drill and excavating for oil companies. Because is a small company they need to be able to leverage technology as much as they can in order to be competitive in the market. The Company was one of the early adopter of Microsoft Dynamics 365, which is a combination of ERP and CRM cloud-based solutions.  John Thomas, Operation Manager, at Hagler Systems, adds “Because of its built-in analytics, we can use Dynamics 365 for Operations to analyse and strategize our business better. The flexibility allows us to grow as a business and to grow with our ERP solution.” [23].

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1.      Cloud Computing adoption in Education Industry

Figure 9. Cloud Computing Support in Education industry

Education industries compare to other Industries discussed before, has been probably the slowest to adopt cloud computing technology, but in the last few years we start to see a much more consistent use of cloud computing solution for teaching purpose. The possible reasons of poorly cloud computing implementation, include a less competitive environment industry and traditionally a slower rates of technology adoption by public sector organization because the financial cost and implication . However in the last few years the implementation of cloud solution in education organization increased. The impact of Cloud Computing on Education can be explained with three simple reasons:

  1. Low Cost and Free Technology: In the recent years there has been a huge growth in low-cost technology and free technology for

social interaction, publishing, collaborating, editing, computing open source and many more. Most of the technology that one time they were very expensive to implement now are free to everyone and web-based. Many students as today already heavily using such technologies in their personal life, like Facebook for social networking or Dropbox and google docs for sharing document, file and picture. Education system should take advantage of this trend which will both enrich student’s technology –enabled education and in the same time will reduce the budget impact. The need of hardware and software it is still there, but it will shift from being on premises to being in the Cloud. This will transform the Capital budget expenditure (CAPEX) into operational budget expenditure (OPEX). Basically education institute instead pay in advance huge budget for implementing the infrastructure for student and Staff will pay only for the amount of usage of the cloud infrastructure[24].

 

  1. Content Growth: The amount of content is growing fast and is available to a broad audience were anyone can contribute. Content creation traditionally has been very personal and content produced has often a short lifespan. Publishing text, photo arts and opinion has been limited to a small audience. The scope of a student‘s influence was usually limited to a class and information and content have traditionally been relatively static things, created once and rarely changed. With technology today anyone can create content that can last for many years. Also content are constantly evolving through collaboration, interaction and updates. The people will not just refer to information or copy information but will modify them if necessary [24].

 

  1. Collaboration: One big advantages that technology brought, especially cloud technologies, is the fast improving of communication and collaboration with others. Technologies today make interactive collaboration possible through the web, between students in the same class but based in different geographical area in the world [24].

With this three concept in mind, we can start to see some of the benefits cloud-computing technology can bring into the education environment, but also the risks and limitation that a new technology can also carry over. Below in figure 10 you can see a table with some of the benefits and risk/limitation of Cloud Computing technology:

Benefits Limitation/Risks
Access resources form anywhere Not all application run in the Cloud or are supported by the cloud
24 hours access to infrastructure and content material Speed/lack of internet can affect the solution and access to the infrastructure
Adoption of green technology Organizational support
Increased  openness of students to new technology Standard Adherence
Offline usage with synchronization Data security protection and privacy for users
Software open source or pay per usage IT support
Supporting for online teaching and learning Lack of Confidence

Figure 10. Benefit and risk/limitation of Cloud Computing

Considering that higher Education is one of the pillar of our society development, through the partnership between Universities and industry, researcher and students have proven their contribution to the transformation of society and world economy. With the implementation of cloud computing in the education this partnership get a greater meaning because Universities and Colleges can open their own infrastructure to industries in different businesses for research purpose, such as medical and engineering and easily share and access research discovery and data. As said before Education is not only the pillar of our society development, but it is also one of the largest sector globally and the development of this sector it is also a key for economic growth and improvement in the standard of living. However, with the present economical context, the use of cloud computing for the education sector could be a necessity and not only an option for development and improvement of the Academic IT infrastructure. Today the cost in higher education are increasing and in the same time budgets for Institute in education have been cut, forcing Universities and Colleges to find alternative way to deliver resources to students and staff.  However, it is interesting the data that emerge from a survey which result that the 70% of IT leaders from higher education, decide or thinking to switch to a cloud computing solution to improve IT infrastructure, while only 38% gave as key factor to switch to cloud computing based on cost reduction [25]. Improving the Academic IT infrastructure of a Universities or a College will have an effect also on the quality of the education system offered to staff and student. It is a fact that our educational system lack of resources such as small classroom, staffing cuts, shortage of qualified teachers and constantly changing standards. But the cloud it is a valuable tool that can improve the accessibility to a quality education also in remote and poor area and solve this problem of overcrowded classroom. As we will see in the next chapter, through Desktop as a Service the student can log in to his own personal desktop to attend classes online, perform labs exercise online, and prepare for their exams or doing assessment for particular module all online. As today Cloud Computing has become an adoptable technology for many institute around the World, with the ability to use services in the Cloud, educational institute can concentrate much more on teaching and research activities rather than information technology services.  It is a fact that technology such Cloud Computing is now part of the day to day teaching environment and also the big IT industry they start adapting to this evolution and offering solution ideal for education, such as Microsoft (Azure) and Amazon (EC2).  There has being a number of studies carried out into Cloud computing in Education in multiple countries worldwide. All those research describe how Cloud computing has being implemented, the challenges, the benefits and the impact in applying this technology in education.

Cloud Computing for Higher Education: A Roadmap 2012 (Australia)

In this paper the authors will explore and analyse the adoption of cloud computing as new opportunities in enhancing teaching and learning but also to implement a low cost environment for teaching and learning. It is evident that cloud computing has significant place in the higher education landscape both as a ubiquitous computing tool and a powerful platform. Although the adoption of cloud computing promises various benefits to an organization, a successful adoption of cloud computing in an organization, particularly in education institute requires an understanding of different dynamics and expertise in diverse domains. This paper aims at a roadmap of cloud computing for Higher Education (CCHE) which provides with a number of steps adopting cloud computing [26]. This paper gives an overview on benefits and difficulties that will arise in adopting Cloud Computing technology in higher education but more important give an overview of strategic roadmap to implement Cloud Computing Technology in Higher Education institute. Below in figure 11, you can see table related to the impact of cloud computing on education research and innovation:

Users Cloud Computing Implications
Students
  • Open computer-based offers
  • Digital Learning Environment
  • Educational methods with personal portfolio
  • Web-based self-service
  • Intelligent environment of synchronous and social leraning
Teachers
  • Computer-based integrated and flexible teaching systems
  • Training facilities for education innovation
  • Easy access to educational and research content
  • Blog Web sites for collaboration and knowledge building
  • Use of presentation software and of digital content
Researchers
  • Collaboration and transparent sharing of research infrastructures
  • Access to digital data and information
  • Knowledge of the economic demands and carrying out research in accordance with these demands

Figure 11. Impact of Cloud Computing on Education, Research and Innovation [26]

Cloud Computing Adoption by Higher Education Institution in Saudi Arabia

The Academic study of Cloud Computing within Saudi Arabia is an emerging research field. Saudi Arabia represent the largest economy in the Arabian Gulf Region. This position offer a potential market for cloud computing technology. In this paper three factor influence the adoption of Cloud Computing Technology, Relative Advantage, Data Privacy and Complexity. Significant differences in the areas of cloud computing compatibility , complexity, vendor lock-in and peer pressure between large and small institution were revealed. Items for future cloud computing research were explored through open-ended questions. Adoption of Cloud services by higher education institution has been started. In this paper it was found the adoption rate among large universities is higher than small higher education institutions. Improving the network and Internet infrastructure in Saud Arabia at an affordable cost is a pre-requisite for Cloud Computing adoption. Cloud service provider should address the privacy and complexity concerns raised by no-adopters [27]. This paper shows that Higher Education Institute should invest in future Technology like Cloud Computing that will help to focus on core Business and identify Cloud Computing as Highly potential candidate to succeed in the near future.

Italian University Marconi Cuts e-learning IT cost by 23% with virtual Data Centre, 2013

Italy’s Marconi University is the first Open University in Italy and they manage to reduce the costs of

IT infrastructure by 23%. To achieve that they move to a cloud computing platform and this facilitate the university to provide education resources via E-leaning platform and mobile device such as laptops, tablet and smartphone. Moreover Cloud Computing connects all the universities faculties and department together and enables the access to the data storage, emails, database, educational resources, research applications and tools anywhere for teachers, administrators, staff, students and other users when needed [28]. The University has decided to host its online campus e-learning platform on Interoute Virtual Data Centre (VDC).  Students around the world are able to access the services and educational materials any time, day or night. Figure 5 will show a diagram describing the advantages in the use of Cloud computing applied to the Marconi University:

Figure 12. Cloud computing applied to the Marconi University [28]

Empowering IT Education in Rural India

In India there is a digital divide between the rural education system and the urban education system. From the IT perspective one of the issue with the Rural India facing is less reachability to IT infrastructure compare the urban education. The Indian Government put in place several plans to improve the gap between urban and rural education systems, such as, National Knowledge Network, National Skill Development Corporation and other high skill training initiative, but none of those plan really close the gap between rural and urban education system. Cloud Computing is the one solution that the government is looking as promising to solve the digital divide by providing many education services in cloud such as student information system, interactive learning management systems, collaborative expert materials, eLearning applications, online teaching videos, virtual Labs, bigger storage for students. With Cloud Computing Institute of rural area instead building expensive labs and infrastructure for student the can just implement Software as Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure and Platform as Service (IaaS/PaaS) with huge cutting costs. Recently All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Microsoft have collaborated to host a cloud suite [email protected] that offers e-email, instant messaging, Microsoft Office web apps, 10 GB inbox for 7.5 million engineering students  spread over 10.000 technical institute across the country. With Cloud Computing implementation in the rural area, smaller  colleges  and  universities  with  limited  resources  and  in-house  capacity  will   gain  access  to  cutting  edge  IT  resources  that  they  would  otherwise  not  be  able  to  procure  and  operate  on  their  own [29].

Cloud computing for education: A new dawn?

This research paper analyse how the Education establishment can benefit from the implementation of Cloud Computing in financial difficult times. The economic crisis that almost collapse the entire global financial systems will also affect the educational establishment because government will have less money to invest, pushing Education Organization to seek new opportunities to rationalize the way they manage their resources in a more cost effective method. The research describe how Cloud Computing it is seen as an emerging new computing technology for delivering computing services. This computing approach relies on a number of existing technologies, e.g., the Internet,

Virtualization, grid computing, Web services, etc. The provision of this service in a pay-as-you-go way through (largely) the popular medium of the Internet gives this service a new distinctiveness. In this article, some aspects of this distinctiveness will be highlighted and some light will be shed on the current concerns that might be preventing some organizations from adopting it [30].

An analysis of the use of cloud computing among university lecturers: a case study in Zimbabwe

Cloud computing is a new model of computing that may bring extensive benefits to users, institutions, business and academics, while at the same time also giving rise to new risks and challenges. This study looked at the benefits of using Google docs by researches and academics and analysing the factor affecting the adoption and use of the technology by Lecturers at a university in Zimbabwe. The Literature review of Cloud computing and Google docs was conducted to get an understanding of the usefulness of cloud computing and factor affecting its adoption and use. The researcher conduct interviews to get in-depth insight of the issue in implementing such technology.

The research showed that there are several benefits using Google docs:

  • Is a free software for anyone with a Gmail account
  • Require only internet connectivity to work
  • Enables better collaboration amongst Lectures in the Universities were working on research project they can share ideas  and knowledge

But the research also showed a lack of knowledge on how to use cloud computing among university lectures in Zimbabwe with only 41% of the respondent indicating that they were using it [31].

 

 

Cloud computing: The beliefs and perceptions of Swedish school principals

 

This paper is the study of the perception of Swedish school principals, related the usage of cloud computing in Education. The study in particular investigates the belief and experience of school principals toward cloud computing. The principals of primary and high school were invited to participate to an online survey and 342 responses were received. The result of this study shows the believes that the main benefits of cloud computing it’s the ability for users to access data and software from anywhere and everywhere as long there is an internet access. The study showed also how cloud computing facilitate sharing of learning materials and data. Sweden has a decentralized education system and local authorities, that is the municipalities, are given considerable freedom to decide how to achieve national objectives and develop curriculum in schools. Under this flexible system principals are given power to manage schools such as selecting/dismissing staff and deciding how to allocate resources on items such as IT. In the process of teaching and learning, teachers have the freedom to decide the teaching method and assessment method. Despite of this, the use of cloud computing in the Swedish Education system still very weak. According with principals, one of the biggest obstacles Swedish Schools are facing is that they rely on IT support from the municipalities that they are in charge of the purchase and operation of IT in all public establishment and for security reasons they are not allowing teachers and students to install unauthorized software on school computers [32].

 

Cloud Computing in Higher Education in Jordan

This paper describe the challenges and the importance facing higher education in Jordan with the introduction of cloud computing technology. With the high budget cuts in higher education in Jordanian universities and with the growing demand for information technology (IT) services, Jordanian Universities should consider adopting cloud computing technology strategies to meet with the growing demand on different IT services and budgets cuts. Cloud computing could potentially offer good business models for Jordanian Universities since these universities often don’t have enough resources and knowledge to manage the necessary IT infrastructure to support educational, research and development activities that must be provided in higher education environment. Cloud computing has been see also as solution that will eliminate these complexities from the user. Also this paper describe the challenges and  how the prefer solution for the Jordanian Universities is an hybrid solution and not a public cloud since a public cloud is both owned and managed by the cloud service provider  (CSP) and the universities has not control on it. In the other hand the private cloud will be managed and owned by the universities and it is accessed only by student and staff of the university [33].

Cloud Computing in Higher Education in Ireland

This paper examines different cloud computing solution deployed in Irish Higher Education Institution and outlines benefits, challenges and rationale behind the chosen cloud computing technology. From this research we can see that most of the Irish institutes stated they had implemented some form of cloud computing solution and indicated high satisfaction levels with the implemented solution. Other Institutes indicated that would consider the implementation of cloud solution as future plan. Through this paper we can see the top reasons that push these Institute to adopt cloud computing solution are:

  1. Reduce of existing hardware requirement
  2. Improve scalability of IT services and resources
  3. Improve reliability and flexibility
  4. Improve systems resilience and recovery with data replication and mirroring
  5. Driving down capital and total cost of IT in higher education

Also the paper show how the geographical location of the cloud service provider (CSP), is a consideration when deploying applications to the cloud because of compliance with data protection and privacy laws. Most of the IT Managers surveyed ranked only data centre located in Ireland or Europe chosen as part of the service level agreement with the cloud service provider [34].

  1.       Cloud Service Provider Solution (CSPS) Case Study in Education

 

The past section describe the importance and impact of Cloud Computing Technology in the Education Industry, showing more and more organization in the educations sector, delivering  Cloud computing solution for students and academic staff. But because Education, as mention before, is one of the biggest sector worldwide, also the big name in the Industry of  Information Technology  and software, such as VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Cisco, Amazon and many more,  have a major interest in getting involved in this sector. This is a mutual relationship where customers represented by Colleges and Universities and Cloud Service Provider Solution represented by the company mentioned above have a common interest in adopting and delivering cloud computing solution for student and staff across campus. Below you can see few case studies of information technology and Software Company, showing the cloud/virtualize solution implemented in various educational institution across the world.

 

Cisco:  Developing a Cloud-Computing Strategy for Higher Education – Austin, Texas 2010

In 2010, the Universities of Texas at Austin Migrated to a new Data centre that cost 32 million $. The size of the new data centre was roughly half the size of the old one and this is was the result of two years of intensive planning and design. The New facilities featured a consolidated network architecture and an eco-friendly power and cooling systems. It is expected to reach the full capacity in only three to five years. At that point the university need to expand or migrate the data centre again. There will be also an increase of the Internet data traffic year after year and with such exponential increase in data traffic, University IT teams will need to spend their time simply preparing to handle projected capacity requirements. Year over year the challenge of long-term scalability will became very difficult to implement. On top of that budgets could be cut over the years and this will make very difficult to implement a scalable, efficient solution. So in the search for a more scalable and efficient approach for IT infrastructure, number of schools start to see Cloud-based computing as great opportunities to achieve a large-scale solution without sacrificing performance. In order to realize that all the different schools and department need to realize that to get a return of investment (ROI) there are several challenges and consideration that are unique to each particular needs of each schools or department. Cloud solution is not an infrastructure that will be one-sizes-fits-all. Each school and department will have their own needs and design and the process will goes through three steps [25]:

  • Creating a comprehensive Cloud Strategy
  • Design a Cloud-based architectural model
  • Making the Transaction to the Cloud

Microsoft:  Cleveland City School District (CCSD)

The Cleveland City School District (CCSD) used Microsoft School Data sync to integrate PowerSchool student information system with Microsoft Office 365. And with the addition of Microsoft Classroom, CCSD teachers can automate more administrative tasks and focus their time on teaching. The Cleveland City School District (CCSD) in Bradley County Tennessee, it’s proud of its successful students, the graduation rate is above 90% well over the national average. The School build obtain this excellent results enhancing productivity and collaboration, they adopted the Microsoft Office 365 Education suite.  To build on its success and enhance district-wide productivity and collaboration, the district adopted the Microsoft Office 365 Education suite [35].

 

VMware: Queen’s Universities of Canada

Queen’s University is one of Canada’s oldest educational institutes. Founded in 1841 through a royal charter, the public research university has around 23,000 students and more than 130,000 alumni worldwide. The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science was created in 1893. The educational landscape for engineering and applied science is becoming increasingly complex. More students have limited lab time for accessing high-performance engineering applications that demand high-capacity CPUs and graphics processing units (GPUs). If these applications are slow, students can’t maximize their lab time, and frustration sets in, impacting their overall educational experience. Last year, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science began experiencing an infrastructure bottleneck it needed to quickly address. Students and faculty members experienced delays launching and using applications. During peak times, students sometimes lost as much as 15 percent of their lab time waiting for applications to open. The resource-intensive engineering applications also adversely affected the staff’s Microsoft Office applications. The IT team lost productive time dealing with complaints about performance and general poor application responsiveness. It turned out that the university’s EMC VNX SAN infrastructure was buckling under the demands of more than 100 engineering applications, like AutoCAD, MATLAB, SOLIDWORKS, Microsoft Visual Studio, and Eclipse. The hosts were routinely experiencing usage spikes five to six times above normal, which would bring down the entire storage system and ultimately prevent access to files and applications. Expanding storage resources with a new SAN was cost-prohibitive. The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science chose the Virtual SAN hyper-converged infrastructure solution to replace its existing external SAN when its user base and usage of applications increased, causing storage performance issues. The VMware solution delivers flexible storage architecture, remarkable flash-optimized performance, and simplicity in day-to-day use. Also the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science decided to replace its leased PCs with the VMware Horizon virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution. This gave students, staff, and faculty remote and easier access to the applications they needed to do their work. The solution also reduced CapEx and streamlined the IT team’s ability to manage desktop image complexity. Starting with two departments, the solution has since been expanded to four departments and multiple staff offices comprising 3,500 students and 100 staff and faculty [36].

 

Citrix: University of São Paulo (USP) – 2013 Innovation Award Winner

The University of São Paulo (USP) is the largest Brazilian university and the country’s most prestigious educational institution. USP is also the largest institution of higher education in Latin America, with 100,000 students, 6,000 professors and 17,000 employees. The IT infrastructure is dispersed and substandard, they have one hundred and fifty mini-datacentre that are located in 11 campuses across nine cities, with limited local technical and managerial support, substandard energy and heat dissipation resources and insufficient policies for data security and backup. More than once, years of research has been lost due to poor infrastructure, costing USP large amounts of money. To overcome such poor infrastructure the USP developed a Cloud based solution with Citrix to provide on-demand centrally managed virtual data centre, with flexibility and security, backup, data replication and high availability. The Cloud is built on servers virtualized with Citrix Xenserver and orchestrated by Citrix Cloud Platform. Also the USP offer Citrix powered Desktop and streamed Application via Citrix Xendesktop that are available to users anywhere on PCs, mobile devices, thin clients, and accessible using Citrix Receiver. The Citrix Netscaler also provide Cloud networking access and load balancing from inside and outside the campus [37].

 

Amazon:  San Francisco State University Case Study

The computer Science Department at San Francisco State University has around 400 undergraduate students and 100 graduate students, and is engaged in both education and research. At the moment the department is working in a machine learning project called FEATURE. FEATURE sues machine learning to predict functional sites in proteins and other three-dimensional (3D) molecular structure. This machine need a high performing computational demand  for exploring detailed aspect of biological molecules, and because Computing resources are shared at San Francisco State University that means that researcher need to reshape the size and scope of their questions or face long delays for available resources and this put a cup on experiment that the scientist could run. So because the Scientist need only computational resources periodically wasn’t cost-effective to invest in a large-scale resources and maintain for periodically use. The research team found the answer into on-demand access to computational resources provided by Amazon web Services (EC2) with a pay-as-you-go model that was used when they needed for their high performance computing [38].

 

Chapter 5.  Impact of Cloud Computing in the Institute of Technology of Sligo

This chapter is dedicated to the actual research project, exploring the potential use and impact of cloud computing solutions as support to student and staff for learning in the higher education in Ireland. The project will be focusing specifically on the Institute of Technology of Sligo in Ireland as benchmark. There will be a brief section related to the history of the Institute of Technology of Sligo, followed by a roadmap overview, that describe the changes of the IT infrastructure over the years, that brought the College from a traditional physical infrastructure to a consolidate virtual servers solution, to a cloud-based emails solution for students and virtual desktop solution for student and lectures. The actual research project and implementation, will focus majorly on the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solution with Virtual Desktop infrastructure (VDI), implemented within the College as pilot for some students and lecture in computing courses, in the School of Engineering. This research aim to identify the potential use, benefits and challenges, within students and lectures, using the Virtual Desktop Solution provided by the Institute of Technology of Sligo, but mostly try to identify if this solution or similar solutions, are a valid support for a learning environment such as education. The research will analyse different aspect such as:

  • What are the experience of the student point of view?
  • What are the experience from the Lecture point of view?
  • Does the VDI solution, provide more standardised IT infrastructure flexible and easy scalable in term of deploying resources?
  • What are the challenges encounter in implementing VDI solutions?
  • What are the input to decide to move to VDI solution?
  • Does VDI solution provide a bullet proof solution, were student and staff can connect anywhere/anytime with the College resources?
  • Does VDI solution help the students in preparing for their final exam of each modules?

Empirical data will be collected within a quantitative methodology using survey questionnaire sent to students and lectures in the Institute of technology of Sligo. Participants of the study will include students and lecture who have actively engaged in this VDI technology pilot project over the last two semester. The questionnaire will explore their opinion, the benefits and the issues of the VDI solution and will try to identify, if this technology can enhance learning/teaching experience considering the in demand of online courses but also the taught in class courses. The following chapter will give a brief history introduction about the Institute of Technology of Sligo, to give an overview of the College, the services provided focusing on the importance of online learning.

I think the above part probably can go because all this its already been mention in the introduction

5.1 Institute of Technology of Sligo Brief History

The Institute of Technology of Sligo is leading provider of third-level education in the west region of Ireland with provision across a range of discipline in Business, Social, Engineering and Science. Since its formation in the 1971 as a Regional Technical College (RTC), IT Sligo has transformed from a small college offering two year diploma courses to less than 100 students to a respected Higher Education Institute (HEI) providing to programmes to over 6000 students, 93% are undergraduate and 7% are postgraduate. 21% of the full-time undergraduate intake is mature and 27% of the students are defined as flexible learners, such as part-time, online and distance learner, and over 300 students are supported by the national springboard initiative to reskill to long term unemployed. Uniquely, IT Sligo has over 1500 students studying online on a total of 45 programmes. Regarding staff, IT Sligo currently employs more than 500 staff divide in academic, support and administrative staff. One of the key aspect in the Institute of Technology of Sligo is the flexible delivery of teaching and learning model through online-learning. The growth of online student numbers within the college has been significant year after year through a combination of new programme development, primarily in Science and Engineering disciplines, and through close engagement with industry to provide up-skilling opportunities for staff in new, emerging technologies. Below in figure [x] a diagram that give you the growth of the online-learning student over the past years:

https://www.itsligo.ie/onlinelearning/about/about-online-learning/

The IT Sligo online programmes are designed for students who wants to study part-time at a pace that matches their work-life balance. Through a combination of online delivery technologies comprising the web-casting of live lectures over the internet, high Quality recordings lecture, Desktop and application as a Services for student to access contents and labs exercise, IT Sligo is to the forefront of emerging breakthroughs in the delivery and assessments of online students. In addition IT Sligo online environment combines the benefits of networking with a diverse community of student around the world as the interest level from international students continues to grow. The world map below provides an overview of the countries involved with online learning provided by IT Sligo

Online learning map

https://www.itsligo.ie/onlinelearning/about/about-online-learning/

In addition in the Institute of Technology of Sligo there is a particular focus on local business and start-up business through the Innovation Centre and excellent track record of collaboration with the businesses community and the creative industry across the entire core disciplines of Business and Social Services, Engineering and Design, and Science. As you can see over the years IT Sligo build a valuable knowledge in the development and delivery of online educational programmes in Ireland. With over 10 years’ experience in the online education fields this leadership position was recognised in 2102, when IT Sligo was awarded a ‘Taoiseach’s Public Service Excellence Award’  for its achievement in promoting online learning for both full-time and part-time student [https://www.itsligo.ie/onlinelearning/about/about-online-learning/]. Also The Institute Technology of Sligo since 2012 it is involved in a strategy to become a Technological University. In 2012, National Strategy for higher Education offered the opportunity for institutes of Technology in Ireland to become Technological Universities (Tus) [http://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/national_strategy_for_higher_education_2030.pdf].    This means that the IT Sligo College need to develop a modern and robust ICT infrastructure and the challenge here is to keep pace with developments and expectations of staff and student populations. Classroom, laboratories and others spaces of learning are also necessary and are ever in demand. If we look over the past 10 years there has been a 70% increase in floor area, and considering that cloud computing technology evolve year after year to become a very mature technology , we could start to think at Virtual Classroom as valid alternative to floor and building expansion.

5.2 Cloud Computing Solution implemented in the Institute of Technology of Sligo

IT Services within the IT Sligo College maintain, develop and research information communications technologies and facilities across campus. Some of the services that IT services provide within the college are:

  • Computer Hardware and software Purchasing and Installation
  • Technical support
  • Network services
  • Multimedia support
  • Education technology Development
  • Web Development
  • Virtual and Cloud Technology Development
  • Telephony VoIP
  • Printing and photocopying services for students

Most of the work carried out by IT services is completed behind the scenes. The IT facilities are constantly upgrading in line with a rapid changing technological world. Since 2008 the IT infrastructure in the Institute of Technology of Sligo has changed substantially, starting with a consolidation strategy of physical servers into virtual server solution, or the implementation in 2013 of a cloud-based emails for students with the implementation of Microsoft Office 365. But in 2015 the Institute of technology of Sligo in conjunction with the school of Engineering start to plan a pilot project to offer virtual desktop solution as a service to students and lectures. The result was the implementation in the summer of 2016, of an internal cloud solution that offer Desktop as a Service for students and lectures as support for teaching computing level 8 courses that are delivered in class and online. This project has been very important for the College because implement a core service for students as support for the learning of the chosen module and preparation to exams over a VDI solutions. The final results of this project could open a gate to other solution implemented on a public cloud, for teaching and learning purposes such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud platform. Below you can see a diagram with the transformation and evolution of the IT infrastructure over the years since 2007, within the Institute of Technology of Sligo.

IT infrastructure development in the IT Sligo

 

5.2.1    IT Sligo College consolidation of Physical Server Infrastructure into Virtual Server environment – 2008

As you can see from the diagram in figure [x], in 2008 we start a consolidation strategy process to move services running on a physical server’s infrastructure to a virtual Server infrastructure. This decision to implement virtual server’s solution to replace physical server has been a game-changing technology for the IT Sligo College, which brought efficiencies and capabilities that are difficult to achieve within the traditional physical environment. Because the nature of the business, the IT infrastructure resources and workload can be quite different between different schools and departments, making the IT implementation and maintenance very challenging. The implementation of virtualization strategy brought a series of benefits to the College such as:

  • Save energy:   Migrating physical server over virtual machine and consolidating them onto only fewer physical servers we were able to lower the power energy consumption, and that had also an effect in the cooling cost of the data centre.
  • Reduction of the data centre footprint: This of course goes hand in hand with the previous benefit, because moving to a virtualized environment means also less physical server, less networking gear such as switches and routers, less number of racks needed to housing the physical servers that means also less data centre floor space required.
  • Testing environment: Virtualization allow easily to build testing solution environment that can be tested in every aspect before putting them in production, or provide virtual labs environment for students for their own project. This would be possible also in a traditional physical environment but at high cost and time provisioning.
  • Faster server provisioning: The previous benefit brings us one of the major aspect of virtualization, the time of provisioning. With server virtualization you can reduce drastically the provisioning time for a server setup with technology such as clone a gold image or create a virtual server from templates, the server can be up and running in few minutes. In contrast with the physical environment that will take days or weeks from getting the server from the supplier, then rack, cabling the server and install the Operation System.
  • Reduce hardware Vendor: Virtualization abstract the underlying hardware layer and replace it with the virtual hardware, giving much more flexibility, plus today in the virtualized platform we have several tools that can convert and move virtual machine from one platform such as Microsoft Hyper-V to VMware ESXi or Citrix Xenserver.
  • Reliability and increased Uptime: Virtualization platform offer a number of features that are not available on physical server. Feature such as Live migration, storage migration, fault tolerance, high availability and distribute resources scheduling keep the virtual machines live or give them the ability to recover quickly from unplanned outages.
  • Disaster Recovery improvements: Virtualization offers three important component when it comes to implement a Disaster Recovery solution. The first is the hardware abstraction capabilities for virtual platform. By removing the dependency on a particular hardware or server model the disaster recovery doesn’t need to keep anymore identical hardware to match the product environment and as College the IT department can save money and buy cheaper hardware to use in the DR sites since is rarely used. Second by consolidating servers down to a fewer physical servers as college we can create a much less complex DR site solution. And Third most virtual platform have software that help to automate failover when a disaster recovery strike
  • Isolation applications: with a traditional physical environment in the data centre we usually have one to one model were one application or license server is equal to one physical server. With this model there is an increased of cost and usually server are utilized at the minimum and in the IT Sligo college with so many application and license server in use for the different schools means high cost budget and resource computing wasted or not fully utilized. With the Virtual platform we can provides application isolation, remove the compatibility issue, cuts down cost and server waste by provisioning virtual machine with exact server resources such CPU, memory, storage and networking. Also virtualize platform can extend the life of legacy applications.
  • Virtual Platform a preparation for the Cloud: Virtualize a data centre provides the basic framework for the ultimate expansion to an internal public or private cloud infrastructure. At the end of the day a cloud is a dynamic pool of shared resources and applications that can be accessed on demand and pooling resources and allocate them as needed on demand it is one the key factor also of virtualization.

However moving form a traditional environment to a virtualized environment it is a long-term commitment and process. Of course moving from a physical infrastructure to a virtual infrastructure is not something that happen overnight and also can be consider as the start of journey that continuously evolve. In the IT Sligo College the IT department break this virtual strategy in different phases such as:

  • Consolidation. In this phase we targeting which group of server will be most suitable to consolidate into a virtual environment as first pilot, considering also all the risk involved. For example at first, we wouldn’t target servers such as Domain Controller or Microsoft Exchange Server to be virtualized but servers were the risk is minor. The initial group of servers that were target to move into a virtualize environment were all network license servers for applications that are used in all the different schools  such as AutoCAD, Solid works, SPSS, Alphacam, and many more.
  • Infrastructure. This phase was related to a discussion on which of the virtual platform available on the market we would implement to support all this virtual servers. In this phase we built different virtual pool for testing with Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, and Citrix Xenserver. After the testing the final decision was made based on reliability, cost, and manageability of the infrastructure. Our first virtual infrastructure pool was built with 3 servers running Citrix Xenserver and an external Equal Logic ISCSI storage.
  • Implementation and Integration. In this phase the Virtual Server that will be used as network license servers for all the different application used in the different labs of the Institute of Technology of Sligo, are built, configured, and integrated into the Campus network domain, while the physical server are dismiss from the network.
  • Automation and Management. As the virtual environment grows naturally, need also to be managed. Thankfully virtual server environment comes with management suite such as vCenter in case of VMware, Microsoft System Manager in case of Hyper-v and in this case XenCenter. With this console IT staff have a central point of management not only for Virtual servers but also for all the several pools implemented. Below you can see a screenshot of the XenCenter Console.

 

 

This project for the Institute Technology of Sligo has been very successful and put the initial milestone for all the future project that were followed such as the cloud-based Email implementation for student and the Virtual Desktop implementation for students and Lectures. With this consolidation strategy at first we dismiss more than 50 physical servers.  As today The IT Sligo College has several virtual pools solution implemented through Citrix Xenserver and also through Microsoft Hyper-V, for production and testing environment housing more than 100 Virtual Servers that support core and not core application and services.

5.2.2   Cloud-based solution for students (Microsoft Office 365) – 2013

Before 2013 the mail servers for student were kept in house with a physical server/storage infrastructure, with Microsoft Exchange 2010 configured as mail servers. The IT department was responsible to manage not only the student passwords to access the mailbox, but the mailbox themselves with limited storage allocation for each student. This type of solution of course was far from ideal, not only because the limited storage allocated for each mailbox of each student, but also because wasn’t a flexible solution and IT staff need to allocate time, to do hardware and software maintenance. At the end of 2013 we start to look into a flexible solution for the student emails and because the College has a Microsoft Campus agreement, we decide to implement Office 365 Education. With this solution Students have access to a collection of services such as Office Online Suite, which include Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, 1 TB of OneDrive Storage, Yammer, and SharePoint sites.  With Microsoft Office 365 Education we start offering to students a Cloud-based solution with a Software as a Service (SaaS) model with a benefits that the traditional environment wouldn’t be achievable in term of flexibility and cost. With this solution now each student have a 25 GB storage for the mailbox and they are not force to delete or archive any files. Student also using Instant message, or video chats can collaborate on class project in real time regardless where they are working,  or on which  device, they can create documents with Office Web Apps, that provides the same features as the desktop version of Microsoft Office, and share documents with others students. With the implementation of Office 365 we also implemented the Active directory Federate Services (ADSF) that allow the users to authenticate services within Active Directory in the IT Sligo Campus network domain. With this solution students they don’t need to have separate password to login on the campus network and the personal Email, but they can uses the same credential offering a much more flexible single-sign-on solution (SSO).

5.2.3 2015 – Desktop as a Service VDI solution, for computing courses in School of Engineering

After implementing Virtual Server infrastructure in 2008, IT services start to plan a new virtual solution to offers virtual dedicated desktop for computing courses in the School of Engineering. The solution would support level 8 course taught in class and online. Implementing a desktop as a services solution will give several benefits such as:

  • Management – Virtual desktop solution give the ability to create a library of Master Virtual desktop Images to meet all the different course and module that lecture teaches, and with the snapshot technology available we can roll back virtual desktops images to different and previous states which give a lot of flexibility in term of management and control on what it is installed and used in the virtual desktops
  • Green Environment – Like for Server virtualization, with virtual desktop solution (VDI) we can used thin client to connect to our dedicated virtual desktop. Thin Client consume less energy than a normal desktop computer but also with virtual desktop we can start to promote with student BYOD strategy, that consist bringing your own device on campus and use it to connect to the virtual desktop assigned to the student. In this way we could reduce the carbon footprint and save cost in term of energy for the IT Sligo College.
  • Hardware independence – With a virtual desktop solution the user can connect from any device such as thin client, PC, Apple, Linux machine, Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphone. In this way we could run software and application independently of the hardware platform and the O/s the final user has.
  • OS Migration – Because Virtual Desktop solution are not tied to a particular hardware requirement we can have the flexibility to migrate form one O/S to another without upgrading hardware such as memory, disk and CPU. With the virtual desktop infrastructure we can push an image from a central location to a specific class.
  • Security – Security when it comes to rolling out a VDI solution is a key factor. With VDI the IT staff will have a greater control on how secure the desktop. You could for example lock down the image form external devices or prevent copying data form the image to the local machine. Also because VDI run in a central infrastructure in the data centre, all the data sensitive and not sensitive are stored in the College and not in the user physical device and if the device is stolen information are protected.
  • Connectivity – With the VDI student and Staff can connect anywhere, everywhere as long they have decent Internet connection and access network resources in campus even from home.

 

In 2015 IT Services and the School of Engineering start to draw a plan to implement a virtual desktop solution for level 8 online course. The initial solution was supposed to support the level 8 Higher Diploma in computer science, that is an online course, but according with the lectures and the head of the Computing in the School of Engineering, was decide to extend this solution to other computing courses taught in class to see the outcome and to see if it could be a valid solution to be used in a classrooms. Below in figure [x] you can see a table with all the module – courses that were taken into consideration for the VDI solution and the number of students for each class:

Module  Course Number of Students
System and Networking  Year 3 30
Web development  Year 2 12
Web development  Year 3 10
Software Development  Year 4 15
Software Development Year 3 30
Software Development Year2 52
Honours Degree Year2 12
Higher Diploma (online) 45
Games Development  Year3 12

As you can see from the table there are mix of online courses and in class courses. This project was born to give online learning student resources to emulate the physical PC in college with all the necessary software for study the course module and run labs exercise to prepare for assignment and final exam at the end of each semester, but the decision to put also course module taught in class was mostly related to see the feeling on students and lecture towards the introduction of new technology such as the VDI for teaching purpose. It is a fact that number of student not only in the Institute of Technology of Sligo but around the world are increasing and new technology such as virtual classroom could solve problem related to space per student in campus such as labs rooms capabilities but also for the college itself will means saving into power consumption and building development strategy.  This project will be a very interesting not only by the technical point of view but also from the social point of view. The introduction will open new way for education within the student but in the same could add also some restrain specifically from the academic sector that could consider cloud solution a threat to their profession.

“Not sure about this part but I think it is interesting point to add “

It will be interesting to see the reaction in using new technology applied to an education environment within student from different age and background. For example, if you consider the Higher Diploma course in computing science, it is an online program developed with springboard and Government- founded, to give a chance to participants to up skill to restart their career and get back to work. So in this case we are mostly talking about mature student using the VDI infrastructure that is a different way and approach to study compare what this mature student use to be familiar with.

The VDI infrastructure for this pilot project, based on the lectures requirements for the students, it is a dedicated virtual desktop for each students and lectures taking part into this pilot project. Microsoft Windows 10 will be installed as guest Operating system (O/S) on the virtual desktops, with any additional software application required for the learning of the module such as:

  • Microsoft Office Suite 2016
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2016
  • Microsoft SQL management 2015
  • Oracle Database Express Edition 11G
  • Adobe Photoshop 2016 CC
  • Adobe Illustrator 2016 CC
  • Adobe Flash 2016 CC
  • Adobe reader XI
  • Adobe Dreamweaver 2016 CC

From the network accessibility point of view the VDI infrastructure will be put in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), sometimes referred also to as perimeter network. The DMZ is a logical sub network that contains and expose the IT Sligo Organization to the untrusted network such as Internet. So the authentication process will occur through a secure web access that will allow user to access the internal resources through a firewall. In this way student will have access to all the mapped network drives inside the college campus network. As example you can see an image of the internal mapped network on figure [x]:

Figure x. Network mapped drive in Campus access from Virtual desktop

Students accessing the VDI infrastructure will have access to resources even when they are not in the College, making this solution an exceptional help to practice for assessment or exams. Also according with the IT Management team and  Lecture, because the nature of the courses were student are using free open source software such as MongoDB and JSON programming language developer, students and lectures they have local admin rights on their own virtual desktop and they can remove and install software as they liked. Now this step of granting local admin rights to a VDI solution thinking of a traditional environment can be consider extreme and not safe but if you as IT department put in place all the necessary security system and check, it is achievable with a minimal risks, but this part will be discussed in details in the next chapter related to the implementation plan.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6. Implementation plan of virtual Desktop solution

  1.       Implementation Plan

In this chapter I will discuss the implementation plan of the DaaS solution implemented as pilot project, for students and lectures in the school of Engineering for computing courses taught online and in class. The idea behind this solution is to offer dedicated desktops as a services, for the student and the lecture. The initial target for the pilot is deploy 200 dedicated virtual desktop will all the relative software to support students in the day-to-day learning. After few meetings with the Lectures and the Head of computing school we draw a table with the initial requirement that lecture needs from this solution you can see the table in figure x below:

Requirements for virtual desktops
Software application and O/S Network Accessibility High Availability Virtual Desktop types and configuration Settings
Guest O/S Microsoft Windows 10 Virtual desktop need to be accessible inside and outside the college network Virtual Desktop VM’s need to be available 24/7, implementation of Cluster configuration with live migration of VMs from one physical node to another in case of any hardware issue Persistent virtual desktop
Microsoft Office suite 2016 Students and lecture able to access with Active directory credential of the college, Single Sign on (SSO) implementation. The deployed virtual desktop will have:

1 vCPU

4 GB memory

60 HDD storage

1 vNic

Microsoft Visual Studio 2016 Students needs Admin rights on the Virtual Machine, to be able to install free open source software for their own project.
Microsoft SQL 2015
Oracle Database Express Edition 11G
Adobe Photoshop 2016 Creative Cloud
Adobe Illustrator 2016 Creative Cloud
Adobe Dreamweaver 2016 Creative Cloud
Adobe Flash 2016 Creative Cloud
Adobe Reader XI
MongoDB
Xamarin Android Emulator
Json package

Figure x. List of requirements

As you can see the above list show what O/S need to be installed in the virtual Desktop with all the additional applications, the network requirement for the student to access the virtual desktop solution using their own credential in the college, the availability of the VM’s desktops such as reducing almost to none downtime, and the type of virtual desktop that needed to be deployed. In a virtual desktop environment, a desktop can be deployed in two different types of virtual desktop, such as non-persistent and persistent, the difference between them it’s very simple:

  • With persistent VDI, each user gets his or her own desktop — also known as a one-to-one ratio.
  • With Non-persistent desktops are many-to-one, meaning that they are shared among end users.

Each type of virtual desktop as its own advantages and disadvantages such as:

  • Persistent VDI can be customized and personalized because the users can access their own data, shortcuts and files from the same desktop every time they log in, it is basically a personal dedicated virtual desktop accessed only by one user only. However the downside is that this type of VDI require storage capacity as all those personal customization disk images require more storage capacity than a single golden or master image.
  • Non-Persistent VDI users can’t alter desktop settings or install new application because any change made by the users after a reboot will be back to a clean state before any additional modification, that from the administrator management point of you it’s easier because you really manage one golden or master images, but from the user point of view this type of VDI it is quite limited.

Also the building of the Virtual Desktop resources such as the amount of memory, the total virtual CPU (vCPU), the virtual Network adapter (vNIC) and the total storage capacity, its related on the type of user workload such as light/medium/Heavy. Below you can see a table comparing the setting of each resources for each user workload between Microsoft Window 10 and Microsoft Windows 7 [https://docs.citrix.com/content/dam/docs/en-us/xenapp-xendesktop/xenapp-xendesktop-7-6/downloads/Citrix%20VDI%20Handbook%20(7.6%20LTSR).pdf

User Workload Operating System vCPU vRam Storage
Light Windows 7 2 vCPU 2 GB 10 GB
  Windows 10 2 vCPU 2 GB 10 GB
Medium Windows 7 2 vCPU 3 GB 15 GB
  Windows 10 2 vCPU 3 GB 15 GB
Heavy Windows 7 3 vCPU 6 GB 20 GB
  Windows 10 3 vCPU 6 GB 20 GB

Figure x.  VM setting based on user workload

The user workload it is strictly related to the storage performance and it is limited by the number of operation that it can handle per second, referred as IOPS. Under allocating storage IOPS will result in having a very slow environment and data to load. Below in figure x1, you can see a table to provide guidance on the number of storage IOPS generated per user based on workload and operating systems, considering that input/output operation will be higher during user logon/logoff [https://docs.citrix.com/content/dam/docs/en-us/xenapp-xendesktop/xenapp-xendesktop-7-6/downloads/Citrix%20VDI%20Handbook%20(7.6%20LTSR).pdf]:

User Workload Operating System Storage IOPS
Light Windows 7 10 IOPS
  Windows 10 12 IOPS
Medium Windows 7 15 IOPS
  Windows 10 20 IOPS
Heavy Windows 7 25 IOPS
  Windows 10 32 IOPS

Figure x.  IOPS allocation

At the initial stage of this project, I decide to deploy persistent virtual desktop for medium user workload. (Need to add the reasons of this decision)

After collected all the major initial requirement for the virtual desktop that need to be deployed to the lecture and students, the next phase is planning the hardware and software infrastructure to deploy the virtual desktop solution starting with the Hardware infrastructure.

 

 

 

  6.1.1 Hardware infrastructure 

Starting with a solid and robust hardware infrastructure it is essential and very important especially for a VDI infrastructure. Virtual desktop infrastructure places special demands on storage and Input /Output (I/O) operation such as reads and writes. The storage requirements for a VDI are very different to the storage requirements of server virtualisation environment. For this reason understanding I/O is key to develop a successful VDI storage deployment. Most of VDI deployment are similar I/O characteristics with a relatively high writes-to-reads ratio, due the nature of desktop workload that generally required between 30% to 40% reads operation and 60% to 70% writes operation. While writes form the majority of VDI and I/Os there are also two types of activities that spikes in read I/O such as boot storm and logon storm. Boot storm are caused by large number of VM booting at the same time and causes mostly read I/O operation. However the boot storm can be mitigated by pre-booting the Virtual desktop VMs or by having a considerable amount of read cache in the storage. With pre-booting the virtual desktop VMs are spanned up very early hours in the morning when the storage is not busy, waiting for user to login. While the boot storm with pre-booting can be mitigated, logon storms cannot. As large number of users log on the Read I/O operation will increase but also in this case an effective solution is to have a large read Cache. As you can see the storage is one of the biggest design challenge for a VDI environment and a badly design storage is equal to a bad design solution that will not works as expected. In the market today there are different vendors and architecture to choose such as, VMware, EMC, Dell, Nutanix and many more. All this vendors are offering different technology such as:

  • Dell ISCSI and NFS storage protocol
  • EMC Fibre Channel Storage protocol
  • Nutanix and VMware Hyper-converged infrastrcuture

From here I will discuss the hardware solution and then will move to the software layer with hypervisor used (VMWARE) and the virtual desktop software infrastructure (CITRIX Xendesktop) with also network diagrams and screenshots hope to have this one finish at the most for Monday and then will write chapter 7

  1.       Demonstration technical aspect
  2.       Future plans

Chapter 7.  Analysis

Chapter 8.  Conclusion and perspective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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