I spoke with Mark Reed, CIO of Binghamton University, about whether his university had any plans for cloud computing.
"Yes," said, Reed. "We have one project we're going to deploy and two more we're considering."
The university is moving its entire e-mail system to Google's G-mail, said Reed, explaining that Google offers the application free to educational institutions. Although the move will reduce some cost, the real driving force for moving to G-mail is all the state-of the-art features G-mail provides, such as calendaring, said Reed.
In investigating the move, Binghamton University looked at deployments at some other universities and saw they were successful, Reed said. "A lot of them are going that way," he said.
Another cloud initiative being considered is moving the university's Oracle HR and Finance system to an Oracle-hosted cloud service, but the university has not yet found the savings compelling. The motivation for moving to a hosted service would be to free up people and reduce administrative costs, said Reed. "Oracle releases a fairly large number of security patches every quarter, which have to be deployed by database administrators, and having the system hosted would free up our staff to do other work," he said.
Another possible cloud application being considered is a hosted portal service offered by Campus EAI, which would provide the university with a portal the university does not currently have.
Virtualization and delivering applications through browsers is the wave of the future, Reed said. The university has consolidated 26 of its servers on two Intel servers running VMWare, Reed said, and is working to move more servers to virtualized environments, including its Sun Solaris systems.
The university also has created what it calls a "virtualized desktop" which runs on VMWare on a centralized server and allows access to applications that were previously only running on dedicated PCs in labs. This allows students to access the applications through a browser from anywhere on campus. The portability and flexibility are a welcome change, said Reed.
Michael Neubarth is a Contributing Editor to CIOZone and Director/Principal of eMatrix Media Consulting.