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General Chat Thread, The Cloud - Positive or Negative Future for the IT Dept in General; Hi Guys, I have no doubt that you have all heard about cloud computing, and like me have read many ...
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    The Cloud - Positive or Negative Future for the IT Dept

    Hi Guys,

    I have no doubt that you have all heard about cloud computing, and like me have read many views from those who have doubts, to those who push out the panacea marketing hype.

    I am interested to see what the edugeek guys think this will mean for our future. The views I have seen on the myriad of IT industry sites ranges vastly from those who believe we will be finished within a few years, to those who state that IT staff will still be needed but our roles will change.

    Also, what of the future for the myriad of IT consultancy firms that support the industry, and what of the future for Microsoft, not forgetting Apple, Linux and Novell etc. Are we in a position whereby we should be warning potential computing science students to stay clear, as their will be virtually no jobs for them by the time they graduate in 3 or 4 years time.

    If the worst is to be believed, we could be looking at a near total wipeout of IT departments and the services we provide. On the flip side, some mention that IT teams will go through an evolutionary change whereby we deliver more value and spend less time fire fighting.

    Like many edugeek members, I have spent a lifetime in the industry gaining a skillset and building a career. It is extremely depressing to continually read more and more articles that tell us that we are no more than an annoying burden to our organisations, and that we can (and will) be disposed of by Google and Amazon.

    I am not so blinkered that I don't relaise that what is for us will not pass us by. However, perhaps I am being overly pesimistic - please let me know if I am.

    Cheers,

    K.

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    Friez's Avatar
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    We will always be needed to plug in the cable (the one that connects them to the Internet in this case).

    My view: All this talk of cloud computing on the Internet blah blah is basically just throwing us back to the way of dumb (but slightly more intelligent) terminals.

    The moment the connection is severed we're stuffed and for educational establishments typically everyones connection is piped down one line. Cut that line, the entire network dies. In short, if we do get removed from the equation they'll miss us when we're gone and it is likely they'll want us back in due course.
    Last edited by Friez; 30th October 2008 at 03:54 PM.

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    ahuxham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Friez View Post
    We will always be needed to plug in the cable (the one that connects them to the Internet in this case).

    My view: All this talk of cloud computing on the Internet blah blah is basically just throwing us back to the way of dumb (but slightly more intelligent) terminals.

    The moment the connection is severed we're stuffed and for educational establishments typically everyones connection is piped down one line. Cut that line, the entire network dies. In short, if we do get removed from the equation they'll miss us when we're gone and it is likely they'll want us back in due course.
    And for that reason alone, this school certainly won't ever go down that line. Unless the supplier for the line be it fibre optic, ADSL, SDSL etc can honestly guarntee 100% not 99.9% connectivity at all times.

    Cloud computing sounds like the future, it sounds good and its application is great, but the problem of inconsistent infrastructure will thwart it.

    We get a flaky connection at times, dropping in and out, and with the current network, albeit internet is lost, productivity isn't.

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    ahuxham's Avatar
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    +

    Lets not forget those menial tasks a school technician does as well. Projectors not working, IWB's, no power, no network, switches stalling, password resets, my excel document wont save, I cannot access staffroom, the printer isn't working, my password isn't working and I didn't forget it and all those other applications cloud computing cant control.

    Either in education or business establishments I don't think its going to affect systems that greatly.

    For home users perhaps, as you don't rely on IT support, if its broke you google and the likes, that's where cloud computing will kick off.

    But that's my opinion and the way I see it going.

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    mattx's Avatar
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    As already mentioned, IT has come full circle with a back to the dumb terminal aspect. This is all well and good if you have a good pipe to the outside world. But the fact that you are relying on something that’s only as good as the last mile of infrastructure does not fill me with confidence.
    On a personal matter I certainly won't be storing any of my data in anyone's cloud!!
    We have 'spikes' now in regards to kids accessing the net all at the same time, so having an office type application running over the net is a non-starter for me - certainly at a school level.
    Other 'light' users of IT may find this a valuable aspect, not having to be concerned about data storage - I on the other hand prefer to have everything in house for that 'just in case' moment.
    With just about every government department screwing up with personal data, governments trying to be more controlling of citizens by snooping on them, data security breaches, script kiddies & such - it's not for me thank you.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    As others have said, the big issue is internet connectivity.

    If schools had redundant 100MB fibres for every 600 kids, then fine, it'd work ok. But until that day, it's not going to work. Our externally hosted VLE has enough bandwidth issues as it is...

    It's effect on us? I don't see any. They still need to maintain the computers, the infrastructure, the smart boards, printers, PDA's, etc... Not a significant change really.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kennylang74 View Post
    what of the future for Microsoft, not forgetting Apple, Linux and Novell etc.
    100% Internet-based computing isn't going to work any time very soon, the reliability / bandwidth simply isn't there. The more practical solution is software written on Google-gears style frameworks that allow connected and/or offline operation. Schools will probably end up running their own mini-cloud of computing / storage that to pupils looks seamlessly like "the Inertnet" but is actually a locally running service that maybe caches or updates an up-stream service of some kind. That's what I'm certainly aiming for, anyway.

    If the worst is to be believed, we could be looking at a near total wipeout of IT departments and the services we provide.
    Well, that's the idea - once we get the bits of hardware to mostly look after themselves we can concentrate on getting interesting stuff done.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Problem with 3rd parties?

    If they decide to do some vital maintenance to your service, it might not be at the time suitable for you.

    And the cloud is going to be like the paperless office! If its going to work it wont be for the next 20 years! (especially in schools, people are printing more than ever before!)

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    torledo's Avatar
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    cloud computing seems to be a long-term goal, the datacenters are there and more will be built, the services are what need to be developed aswell as the business model and customer acceptance. And as others have mentioned the last mile infrastructure in something like the UK is atm not reliable or speedy enough.

    So if it'll take BT et al 20 years to get fibre rolled out to most of the uk then it'll take 20 years atleast for cloud computing to be the norm, that's if something doesn't come along to succeed it as a model.

    As for the IT pro, cloud computing can't possibly have as detrimental an impact on the IT dept as the outsourcing and offshoring of IT support services has already had over the years. Many companies have already consolidated their servers to remote locations, so physical access to the servers isn't practical for the IT staff who once had the same servers down the corrridor. Now the servers are halfway across the world. The lights-out mgmt capabilities of servers these days mean that they are becoming easier and easier to manage and control from afar....and virtualization allows for less manpower required for moving and recovering dozens of consolidated servers.

    I think there's still a role for the IT pro over the next 10 years, but improved iLO and virtualization will only make it easier to manage servers, perhaps requiring fewer sysadmins. Getting into software and services development has always been more lucrative than sysadmin, cloud computing doesn't change that.

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    At times, our internet connection can't deal with the school's internet traffic without slowing to a crawl, so it certainly wouldn't handle it if all the IT traffic for the school was suddenly piped down it.

    I think the whole notion is a gimmick to be honest.

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    Reading the other posts I probably think im one of the few teachers here with a view on cloud computing.

    I hear a number of people talking about bandwidth concerns - yes this certainly is an issue but if one looks at how many bandwidth upgrades there have been for schools since 2000 and try and extrapolate that forward, by the time cloud computing is a lot wider in use and stable (middle of next decade?) the bandwidth may have caught up to support it.

    I know one has to be lucky working at schools with stable net connections, but if I look back at the last 5 years Ive had my gmail account, apart from pure loss of internet connection gmail has itself been 'down' far less then the school networks I have been working on. In other words local school networks in my own experience have a far higher failure rate then cloud services i have used.

    I will be advising my own SMT that for the next few years cloud computing is not a must have - the only possible service which should be considered is email through something like Google (and perhaps only as a cost cutting measure)

    I still feel though it should be a good idea to plan for the possible introduction of more cloud based services at school. I know as a teacher one thing which frustrates me is pupils who forgot to attach their latest version of their coursework to their emails when sending it back from home. Google docs type services or even virtual drives would help keep things a whole lot simpler.

    I agree with Dhicks that will probably start appearing is more stable combinations of online/offline methods of managing data - mini local clouds so to speak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shutdownplease View Post
    I hear a number of people talking about bandwidth concerns - yes this certainly is an issue but if one looks at how many bandwidth upgrades there have been for schools since 2000 and try and extrapolate that forward, by the time cloud computing is a lot wider in use and stable (middle of next decade?) the bandwidth may have caught up to support it.
    But it may not. A lot of the infrastructure was laid down a few years ago in the dot-com boom, with how exactly to pay for it all left to be figured out later, and I remember people saying there was so much bandwidth available that we'd never figure out what to do with it. This might even be true for long-range connections between large facilities, but getting bandwidth to the end-user in the home is still the tricky part. ADSL is still a cludge - the quoted bandwidth might sound impressive, but that's still split between 50-odd shared users. I don't think we're going to get decent, high-bandwidth, low-latency links to all schools that soon, certainly not sooner than the cost of basic computing power and storage to drop right down to a level where you can set up your own cloud-esque facility more cheaply than paying for the bandwidth to a remote one.

    --
    David Hicks

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    DMcCoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shutdownplease View Post
    Reading the other posts I probably think im one of the few teachers here with a view on cloud computing.

    I hear a number of people talking about bandwidth concerns - yes this certainly is an issue but if one looks at how many bandwidth upgrades there have been for schools since 2000 and try and extrapolate that forward, by the time cloud computing is a lot wider in use and stable (middle of next decade?) the bandwidth may have caught up to support it.
    Since 2000.

    Speed: 2MB -> 10MB
    Cost: 7,000 -> 32,000.

    Not exactly much progress.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcCoy View Post
    Since 2000.

    Speed: 2MB -> 10MB
    Cost: 7,000 -> 32,000.

    Not exactly much progress.
    The price hasn't changed much for us, but the speed is exactly that 2MB to 10MB. Not a massive jump really...

    Reliability is probably about 95% now, and was 80% or so before upgrades.

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