JISC InfoNet (2012)

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JISC infoNet (2012), Cloud Computing infokit. JISC Advance http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/infokits/cloud-computing (accessed 26-Jul-2012)

Cloud computing is used loosely to describe all manner of services delivered via the internet. Whilst there are certain risks that need to be understood and managed, the underlying technologies are mature in themselves and the post-compulsory education sector generally has the bandwidth required to benefit from them via the JANET network. However, in UK FE and HE there is considerable interest in cloud services but the rate of adoption is still generally low.

Benefits

1. Cloud services make it possible to provide high quality ICT services that meet the requirements of students, instructors, researchers, and other staff.

2. Institutions can also keep pace and rapidly adopt new facilities

3. The cloud makes it possible to provide services 'at any time', 'at any place', and 'on any device'

4. Cloud services produce a significant increase in flexibility, accompanied by cost reduction/control

5. Cloud services can make a contribution to reducing energy consumption


Risks

1. Securing a vast resource is not easy. However, many of the major cloud players have considerably greater capacity and resource to put into state-of-the-art security measures than does the average FE college or university

2. Data Protection is amongst the legal issues that cause most concern for those considering the cloud and some institutions will only consider providers who guarantee that data will be stored within the EU.

3. Data security and legal issues can be compounded by lack of control over who has access to data and lack of visibility about what processing is taking place.

4. Institutions must consider if and how outsourcing their information to the cloud may adversely affect their ability to comply with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

5. Institutions are used to undertaking due diligence checks on suppliers and cloud providers should not be viewed any differently.

6. Institutions might not be contractually tied to a particular supplier for any length of time, there are particular risks related to 'lock-in' when moving to a cloud environment. One is the proprietary nature of the systems , the other is the risk that, by restructuring internal IT service departments, you lose the capability to deliver services in-house in the future.