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Demystifying the cloud

Cloud

03-03-2022 Timothy Steleman

Unlimited power at your disposal, on-demand scaling of resources, worry-free resource management, these are some of the phrases often heard when it comes to cloud computing. They are definitely true, but they come with caution.

Cloud computing has brought many benefits – such as the ones mentioned above – but it has also brought new challenges. Instead of managing physical hardware, IT departments now manage virtual resources – virtual machines, services, disks, databases and more. But that flexibility also has a cost, and one that can be much higher than the equivalent in physical servers when not carefully managed.

Most public cloud services offer elaborate management portals, adding new features and services on an almost daily basis. Keeping up with everything that’s new is a job in itself, as is managing all these services, setting up monitoring and alerts, and doing the necessary clean-up and housekeeping.

With Academic Software acting as your cloud concierge, taking away the complexity and workload of managing cloud resources, you can focus on leading your academic field.

Large enterprises have well-documented, well-governed processes in place to deal with cloud usage and the expenditure that comes with it. They also have the IT staff to manage their cloud environment and the systems to monitor everything 24/7. It’s clear that successful businesses, in any industry, wouldn’t be where they are now without the cloud – there’s no going back.

Same needs, different playing field

As an educational institution you obviously want to follow this trend and even lead it, but your context is very different from that of an enterprise. Supporting thousands, or even tens of thousands of potential cloud users, from students to educators, from staff members to researchers, is not your core business. The volume of work that managing all those cloud resources would bring is most likely well beyond the means of your IT department.

Unlike a business, you have thousands of different use cases, you have classes with groups of students that may change every couple of months, or even weeks. Your users also aren’t all employees who abide by corporate policies, yet you want to provide everybody with the cloud tools they need. You want to enhance the skills of your students by incorporating the cloud in their curriculum, and enable your researchers with the best possible tools for their study and projects, all without creating a burden on your IT staff. You are not alone.

Your personal cloud concierge

A typical use-case for virtualisation is a networked application – think ERP or accounting software – that needs a well-defined environment with access to a centralised database. By running these applications on cloud resources and virtualising them we take away connectivity issues for students and researchers needing access from home, or anywhere away from campus, without the need for VPN connections. Another benefit is the possibility to start each new semester or year with a fresh config, without manually having to manage setup, licences and access.

At Academic Software we have heard and listened to the needs of educational institutions like yours, and we’ve brought the cloud to the core of what we offer. With Cloud Player, we can bring software titles to any end user in a virtualised way, in the browser.

Another use-case is software that requires specific hardware to run – think 3D-design applications. Equipping every student with a high-end workstation would be impossible, but through Cloud Player you can offer these titles in a virtualised fashion, on GPU-optimised hardware, which only runs when needed, thus keeping costs well under control.

Our Student Cloud allows educators to prepare cloud labs for students, who then can study and use these cloud resources in a controlled fashion. Cost-control features like auto shutdown on idle, and pre-set usage limits prevent overspending, and all usage is monitored and tracked for reporting, all without needing to know the ins-and-outs of a typical cloud management portal – educators can focus on teaching, and students can focus on learning.

Finally, with Research Cloud we give your researchers the cloud tools they need to run any workload on any environment. Through an easy-to-use interface your researchers have access to any flavour of cloud environment, with machine sizes ranging from standard servers to number-crunching beasts. Here as well, we provide the automatic monitoring and management out of the box. While auto-shutdown may not always be desired (though possible) during research, notifications when resources are idling are just one way to keep the running costs under control. Other upcoming features are detailed reporting and cost allocation per project/lab so your budgets are as clear as your research results.

With Academic Software acting as your cloud concierge, taking away the complexity and workload of managing all these cloud resources, you can focus on leading your academic field, providing world-class education with the most modern digital tools, and innovating through high-powered research.

Academic Software is the all-in-one solution for teachers and students to access high-end and up-to-date software and digital assets needed in their educational trajectory through their school account, enriching the teaching and learning experience and increasing the quality of education.