Reach for the clouds

Earlier this week, Michael Bromley, Head of Online Services at Telstra Business, visited my workplace to provide me and my colleagues with an overview of cloud computing.

What is cloud computing?

Michael defines “cloud computing” as:

…common business applications, platforms or infrastructure that are hosted on the internet (i.e. in the cloud) and are accessed locally from a web browser, while the software and data are stored remotely on servers.

hong Kong building 5, courtesy of herman430, stock.xchngThis definition may be particularly relevant to the corporate sector, because it could reflect the typical corporation’s chronological journey into the cloud.

For example, Company X might dip its toes into the cloud by discontinuing local installations of their standard desktop software onto individual PCs, in favour of connecting to Google Docs.

Of course this is a far cry from migrating all of their data and IP into cloud-based infrastructure, but it’s a significant start.

Private clouds

The major barrier to wholesale upsourcing to the cloud, I feel, will be data security. I can’t imagine too many organisations rushing to shift their sensitive customer details onto unseen servers in foreign jurisdictions. It’s one thing to use an online word processor; it’s something else again to store names, residential addresses and social security numbers out there, somewhere.

I can also appreciate corporate hesitation with public clouds like YouTube; many companies won’t want to share their IP with their competitors. That’s where I think private clouds may prove useful. By restricting access to jealously guarded content, but managing it within the cloud infrastructure, the company might strike a balance between security and efficiency.

vpc1, courtesy of Michael Bromley

What does this mean for e-learning?

Local installations of specialised e-learning authoring software is notoriously difficult in hierarchical corporations.

Even after you have secured funding (which is a feat in itself), you need to secure managerial approval to use the software, then you need to justify to various IT people why you need it, then you wait for a technician with the necessary admin rights to install it, then after 14 days you realise he didn’t register it properly, then you have to call him back to re-register, then he tells you he can’t seem to register it for some reason… By the time it’s all set up, a new version is released.

OfComm Series - Collapsed, courtesy of rajsun22, stock.xchng

Wouldn’t it be nice to skip all that?

Wouldn’t it be more efficient to simply log into the software on the web?

If you need 20 licences now, you can subscribe and have them in an instant. If you need only 12 licences next month, you can drop the other 8. On the other hand, if you need 30 licences, you can subscribe for 10 more.

Sure, you’ll still require the necessary funding and approval, but already the flexibility of licensing is promising an attractive ROI. Add the fact that you don’t need to install or register anything, nor maintain it or upgrade it, and it looks even rosier.

Suffice to say I’m keeping an eye on Lectora Online.

But online course creation is only one aspect of e-learning. Consider also:

Happy Cloud, courtesy of ba1969, stock.xchng.•  YouTube channels
•  Podcast hosts
•  Blog platforms
•  Wiki spaces

The list goes on…

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2 Comments on “Reach for the clouds”

  1. Jeff Goldman Says:

    Another advantage for e-learning development on the cloud would be the ability to access both the development tool and files from any computer. Currently my e-learning software resides on my PC, but would it be great to be able to develop anywhere/anytime even at a SME’s location regardless of which PC or need for VPN access, etc. After all the end product of e-learning has the convenience of anywhere/anytime. It would be great to have the same luxury on the front – end.

    Thanks for the great post and explanation of cloud computing.

  2. ryan2point0 Says:

    I agree Jeff. Not only can cloud computing help the single developer, but it can also enhance collaboration and team work. Thanks for the comment!


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