Above Campus Services: Shaping the Promise of Cloud Computing for Higher Education
2009, EDUCAUSE Review
Bradley C. Wheeler, S. Waggener
Cloud computing has arisen as the in-vogue description for the massive aggregation of a wide variety of IT services delivered via fast digital networks — much like power generation and the electrical grid of a public utility. The idea is not new. In fact, the concept of today's cloud computing may date back to 1961, when John McCarthy, retired Stanford professor and Turing Award winner, delivered a speech at MIT's Centennial. In that speech, he predicted that in the future, computing would become a "public utility."1
Yet for colleges and universities, the recent growth of pervasive, very high speed digital networks offers not simply access to more efficient computing but rather a new capability and an opportunity to rethink approaches for delivering IT services. These networks are catalysts that point toward an evolving discontinuity in the point of origin for essential IT services. Many institutions are particularly well positioned — principally from their collective investments in Internet2, National LambdaRail, and various Regional Optical Networks2 — to garner the anticipated economic benefits of cloud computing models, and such efficiencies are especially welcome in these extremely difficult economic times. Beyond cost-per-IT-unit benefits, however, these networks and cloud computing models renew important questions regarding the role of a particular institution among the community of scholars and students that compose higher education.
Wheeler, B. and S. Waggener (2009), "Above-Campus Services: Shaping the Promise of Cloud Computing for Higher Education," EDUCAUSE Review, Vol. 44, No. 6, pp. 52-66.