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General Chat Thread, Cloud Computing Your Thoughts! in General; Morning Guys Scanning the news sites this morning I came across the below article on Cloud Computing with great interest, ...
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    CPLTD's Avatar
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    Cloud Computing Your Thoughts!

    Morning Guys

    Scanning the news sites this morning I came across the below article on Cloud Computing with great interest,
    How do you guys feel about this idea of having apps and alike running via the web, I have to question the security and the reliability of Cloud but once that is assured how would this affect computing in the 21st century,

    Cloud Looms Large As Future Of Computing

    your feedback is much appreciated!

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    mac_shinobi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CPLTD View Post
    Morning Guys

    Scanning the news sites this morning I came across the below article on Cloud Computing with great interest,
    How do you guys feel about this idea of having apps and alike running via the web, I have to question the security and the reliability of Cloud but once that is assured how would this affect computing in the 21st century,

    Cloud Looms Large As Future Of Computing

    your feedback is much appreciated!
    If they managed to secure it enough and upgrade broadband in the UK enough something similiar to korea as per I think it was synacks comment on another thread they may actually start subscriptions for gaming accounts as apposed to selling consoles - that way all the hardware for the actual gaming will be dealt with at data centres and you subscribe to it for a monthly fee or annual fee or w/e and if there are any hardware upgrades then you would get the hardware upgrades without the need to fork out more money to get a new console(s)

    Imagine being able to do that over the internet and having access to all the latest games consoles and games that you could buy / rent and no need for having consoles x, y and z to play different games

    I mean in the USA they have net flix where you can literally rent / play movies online just like apple have done with there apple TV - although if you had your computer attached to your tv in some way shape or form and used iTunes you could possibly do the same thing anyway whether or not it was through apple is another thing altogether

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    alan-d's Avatar
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    There has to be a massive improvement in Internet availability in the UK with both hard wired and wireless systems before education could use cloud technology to the full. In addition educational software companies will need to do a lot of rewriting of programs to make full use of cloud computing.

    I can see a place for Cloud computing in the business world and personal use but there are limited uses in education at the moment, document storage and email will probably be used, VLEs would be used as they are now which technically are already within the realms of Cloud Computing.

    Security is a big issue, especially in light of Child Protection etc etc etc.

    The biggest concern is what happens when the host has a fault or the Internet is not available? There would need to be a local backup for such occurrences.

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    My biggest concern with cloud computing is if mission-critical applications are shifted over. If that happens, your entire business is completely dependent on a third party's systems. Single points of failure litter the whole idea, from the internet connection on your computer, to the software that they use to administer the cloud.

    Not only that but a cloud is generally by its very nature accessible from the internet. I'd've thought that the exposure of Twitter's internal documents by someone guessing a Google Apps password would've highlighted the dangers of this.

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    CPLTD (20th August 2009)

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    russdev's Avatar
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    To be honest that is way things have been going for a number of years the arguments about internet connection is valid at moment but in near future think lot of that will be solved.

    Key to cloud computing is use of offline mechnisims like Gmail,Google Calendar and Zoho where when offline you can still continue but in a lmited fashion.

    Myself most of my stuff in cloud really and only time I don't is when I travel for example by train in which case I enable offline modes or download to my laptop what I need.

    Most of my stuff is one of few places Evernote (which has a very good offline client), Google Docs, Twitter is all done via Seesmic Web etc etc

    I am thinking about having eyeos hosted somewhere and make in effect my whole os in the cloud?

    As for education software having to rewritten that will happen overtime specially with things being released for Portals & VLEs etc.

    But all that said there is place for both and quote at end of the article sums it up for me.

    It is the users that take advantage of the cloud alongside traditional IT services, taking the best from both that will truly benefit from this latest phenomenon called 'the cloud'.
    Russ

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    As for data security the missing bit at moment (few things coming which sort of deal with it) is encryption of cloud computing documents.

    Also I see a big intake of white label cloud computer services hosted on your own data centre which you have control over etc but can offer same flexibility as google docs etc.

    Russ

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    As above I see more use of cloud services inside the educational establishment for the time being which allows the issues of security and accessability to be addresses while also allowing for mobility.

    Anyone on the MS upgrade path is headed towards this anyway in a more politely integrated way. Windows 7 and 2008 R2 allow for transparent VPN access over IPv6 or SSL allowing the user to always be connected to the corporate office with no extra steps from anywhere. Stuff like live photos etc are already integrated.

    The next version of Windows is likely to integrate the Windows Azure platform which will easily allow programmers to break down the barriers between the computer and the network. Along with the server components developers using .net will be able to span managed code into the cloud hosted on a server somewhere - probably the school datacenter in the beginning.

    Stuff like google wave is also going to be released in the server side for anyone to use in their own environment.

    The cloud does not nessisarily mean the browser, it makes me cringe every time people make that assumption. Browsers are nasty piles of legacy code with limits built in everywhere and building them to support more and more protocols won't help with this.

    Stuff like Silverlight and Air are prime candidates for this as both can be freed from the browser and layed on the faster base of the OS which cuts out several middlemen from the process as well as allowing task specific security taylored to that kind of App and allowing full speed benifits of the OS. These kinds of technologies will allow truely transparently connected applications which could be ultra small (clientside) and not require an installation while still using the local hardware efficiently and safely.

    I do have to question the name though 'cloud computing' doesn't rain come from clouds, and lightning, snow, hail. The whole thing just sounds like a natural disaster waiting to happen

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    I'm with Russ on the "white label" theory. IT is going cloud computing, that is certain, the tremors felt when Google announced ChromeOS is proof of that, even if they never release a thing! Windows as a client OS will take a hit, it already has with netbooks running Linux, and it will continue as more and more of what we do is based on the web.

    We have been going this way for a while now though, OWA for Exchange improves each iteration, VLEs are growing & doing more, and with home access ala Adito, EasyLink etc., we've had crude online storage. The missing link has always been the apps, not everyone having Office at home for example, (something possibly helped with Office Web Apps coming?), and although there is OpenOffice for that, the same doesn't help for same DT or Music apps. As with a lot of things, it'll be a gradual change. As has already been said, we need more ubiquitous Internet before the boundaries will get really pushed.

    My one issue with where most of the mainstream media have gone with Cloud Computing is this idea that companies like Google will provide all the services, and business in-house IT will die (screams of outsourcing and BSF anyone?). Google may well clean up, if they haven't already, in the consumer space, but I don't see Cloud Computing pushing businesses to outsource any more than they already do, companies will by-and-large still run their own IT shops. We're back to the "white label" idea - although some businesses may want to outsource, a large majority will want to keep it in-house, retain control. Again, what happens if the Internet connection drops? By having it in-house, you're not reliant on the Internet, you can run it over your LAN, where the real bonus comes, is that when you're travelling, or at home, the interface, the features, the access, you have, are entirely the same. What will happen is business will need faster data pipes, and more back-room infrastructure to handle the work, it's all very UNIX dumb-terminal.

    We use lots of netbooks in lessons - for the VLE and OWA only really - basically cloud computing. Though definitely a big deal, Cloud Computing will be an evolution, not a revolution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diello View Post
    Though definitely a big deal, Cloud Computing will be an evolution, not a revolution.
    Surely a devolution? Its a step back towards the mainframe systems of old.

    My theory is that cloud computing will be a flash in the pan and little more, the big evolution will come when truly distributed systems are developed. Personal computing power is now so cheap that in many cases building a dumb terminal is a waste of resources, better would be to build a terminal which is a node in a massive distributed system, which can be connected or disconnected from that system on the fly and will both allow access to the resources of that single, massively redundant distributed system while simultaneously providing any spare resources it has to operations running on that system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesb View Post
    Personal computing power is now so cheap that in many cases building a dumb terminal is a waste of resources, better would be to build a terminal which is a node in a massive distributed system, which can be connected or disconnected from that system on the fly and will both allow access to the resources of that single, massively redundant distributed system while simultaneously providing any spare resources it has to operations running on that system.
    But that is the system we have right now. Anyone can write Javascript code and stick it in a web page, where it runs on a client machine. Javascript is a way better language than most people seem to assume, and modern browsers are getting so they can execute it at a reasonable speed (i.e. "Web 2.0" == "Javascript actually works now"). You could build a distributed computing system using Javascript running in people's borwsers, all people would have to do is visit a web page for your code to run.

    There seems to be a bunch of different meanings of "the cloud" around. If "the cloud" means a bunch of servers Somewhere On The Internet that my end-users access via a web borwser, then I don't think that's an appropriate computing/data storage model for a school. I think servers should be under the control of the school, or at least some school-related central authority - LEA, central government department or whatever. In practice, the likelihood of an LEA or centralised government IT system working is depressingly small (c'mon, just picture in your mind what an LEA/government system would look like. Can you picture it working? Actually working? Really?). Performance-wise, no matter how much the marketing departments of ISPs try and convince us, the perofrmance of your average Internet connection isn't going to be good enough to handle the day-today operations of an entire school, so you're still going to need servers local to a school. There's no reason why those servers shouldn't use the Internet to synch to a central point of some sort, of course.

    If "the cloud" means web-based end-user computing then yes, I think the operating system as we know it is rapidly becoming pointless and we'll all be using the web as our primary user interface in the near future, maybe 5 years or so. The average user doesn't want to care about which operating system they have, they just want to switch the computer on and have it work. The OS will be a random, unseen bit of code that comes with your hardware device and sorts out access to the hardware for your web browser, nothing more.

    I'm also coming to realise that the average user has no need how to understand and use something like Microsoft Office. Getting users to use the file system properly, to open and edit files and save them again, just leaves too much possibility for error. Instead of training end-users to use off-the-shelf software to best approximate the task they want to do we should concentrate on getting more people to be programming customised applications that do what the user actually wants to do.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Quote Originally Posted by CPLTD View Post
    Morning Guys

    Scanning the news sites this morning I came across the below article on Cloud Computing with great interest,
    How do you guys feel about this idea of having apps and alike running via the web, I have to question the security and the reliability of Cloud but once that is assured how would this affect computing in the 21st century,

    Cloud Looms Large As Future Of Computing

    your feedback is much appreciated!
    I'll trump your article with this one Cloud computing: Freedom to move data is vital, says Jack Schofield | Technology | The Guardian.

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    That's more like it.

    Basically it's a bunch of marketing tat same as "web 2" (which in some circles is now a derogatory term e.g. "web 2 generation" is often used a kind of alias for illiterates with minute attention spans).

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    It seems the media see cloud computing as an either/or scenario for businesses (and schools). There's room for both isn't there?

    Perhaps in the future we will see more services like Amazon's EC2 service, where you could upload your own virtual machines or applications and run them from their data centres. If this was integrated with something like VMware's vSphere you could use it for failover purposes too e.g. SIMS server goes down at school, staff get redirected seamlessly to the SIMS server in the cloud. They could call it CloudMotion™.

    As Google has shown with Google Docs (and consequently Microsoft with web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), some applications are ideally suited to being web-based. I could see a lot of schools moving to the online version of Office, particularly since it will be free, enables better collaboration (multiple people can work on the same document at the same time) and you will always get the latest version of Office. However, there still needs to be better integration between offline and online apps. For example, when you double-click a .docx in Windows, it would be nice if it could open seamlessly in the online version of Word or Google Docs.
    Last edited by Arthur; 22nd August 2009 at 01:23 AM.

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    Question Head in the Clouds

    I greet cloud computing with enthusiasm and I beleive it will have a major role to play in schools who perhaps do not have the full range of resources and in-house skills that exist in the commercial sector. The cloud can give these schools access to the sort of computing facilities that larger institutions currently enjoy. For larger schools it will mean that we can really concentrate our resources in areas of particular interest to our organisation or where ownership is important. Other utilities can come from the cloud.

    Of course there are concerns and those relating to security and reliance on ISPs and external agencies have been highlighted by many of the contributors to this thread. We cannot go fully down this route until we are satisfied that these have been addressed.

    One other concern, which may not be big problem, is the interraction with the desktop client. I used to administer a Citrix environment (OK it is Terminal Service and not quite the same thing) and one of the biggest issues for me was with printers and the loading of printer drivers that are correctly recognised by the remote application. Saving to local and network drives was also sometimes and issue. I wonder if similar issues will occur with cloud applications. Certainly something to test.

    Definitely a space to watch

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    One of my worries is who owns all the data? A similar problem has been highlighted with the server farms set up by managed service providers to schools: if they loose the contract to support your school(s) how do you get the data back, what will the cost be, both financial and in terms of school performance?
    Will there be standards which all (cloud service) providers should adhere to? Following on from that, will you be able to transfer data from one (provider) to another without compromising it?

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