Abstract— With the high budget cuts in higher education in Jordanian universities and with the growing demand for information technology (IT) services Jordanian Universities should consider adopting cloud computing strategies to meet with this growing demand on different IT services and the budget cuts, Cloud computing could offer good business models for Jordanian universities since these universities often do not have enough resources and knowledge to manage the necessary information technology (IT) support for educational, research and development activities that must be provided in a higher education environment, while cloud computing aims to eliminate these complexities from the user.This paper describes the importance and the challenges facing higher education in Jordan, introduction to cloud computing technologies, services and deployment models, reasons for the rise of cloud computing in higher education as a possible solution for the challenges facing higher education in Jordan, a proposed model for universities using Cloud computing technology in Jordan and the possible challenges that could face the proposed model.Keywords- Cloud Computing; Higher Education; Jordan; Cloud Computing Services; Cloud Computing Challenges.
World of Computer Science and Information Technology Journal (WCSIT) ISSN: 2221-0741 Vol. 3, No. 2, 38-43, 2013
Cloud Computing in Higher Education in Jordan
Samah A. Massadeh
Department of computer engineering Faculty of Engineering Technology Amman, Jordan Muhammad A. Mesleh Department of computer engineering Faculty of Engineering Technology Amman, Jordan
Abstract— With the high budget cuts in higher education in Jordanian universities and with the growing demand for information technology (IT) services Jordanian Universities should consider adopting cloud computing strategies to meet with this growing demand on different IT services and the budget cuts, Cloud computing could offer good business models for Jordanian universities since these universities often do not have enough resources and knowledge to manage the necessary information technology (IT) support for educational, research and development activities that must be provided in a higher education environment, while cloud computing aims to eliminate these complexities from the user. This paper describes the importance and the challenges facing higher education in Jordan, introduction to cloud computing technologies, services and deployment models, reasons for the rise of cloud computing in higher education as a possible solution for the challenges facing higher education in Jordan, a proposed model for universities using Cloud computing technology in Jordan and the possible challenges that could face the proposed model. Keywords- Cloud Computing; Higher Education; Jordan; Cloud Computing Services; Cloud Computing Challenges.
Importance of higher education in Jordan Jordan’s population is young, with 70% under the age of 30 and a 94% literacy rate. A well established and multidisciplinary educational system innovates starting in elementary school (e.g. one lap top per child initiative), delivering specialized Information and Communications Technologies track option for high school diplomas, and a wide array of advanced Information and Communications Technologies and Engineering degrees in Jordanian universities. Jordan has a higher proportion of university graduates in technological fields than any other country in the region. Challenges facing higher education in Jordan: With significant budgets needed in higher education and the growing demand for information technology (IT) services, universities in Jordan are facing challenges in providing necessary information technology (IT) support for educational, research and development activities. The age of doing more with less has been described as the new normal in higher education . With escalating expectations for IT resources and services yet diminished funding, doing more with less has been on the radar in IT for some time .
That is why educational establishments should seek opportunities to make the way they manage their resources more efficient, and to provide an information and communications technology enabled teaching environment. II. WHAT IS CLOUD COMPUTING?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), defines and describes cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction” . Cloud computing is a style of computing where dynamically scalable and virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. The cloud refers to the datacenter hardware and software that supports a clients needs, often in the form of data stores and remotely hosted applications. These infrastructures enable companies to cut costs by eliminating the need for physical hardware, allowing companies to outsource data and computations on demand . The cloud allows systems to dynamically provide the computing resources their users need, reducing expenses, energy consumption and improving on their scalability ,, . Hence, if users want to run some applications in a cloud, it is the computer which has to “fit” into the needs of the users.
WCSIT 3 (2), 38 -43, 2013 The cloud system can thus be considered as a “user guided” system, since the computing resource is adapted to the users’ needs. Furthermore, an appropriate cloud infrastructure manager (such as OpenNebula ,  or Eucalyptus ) can provide on demand instantiation, monitoring, and live migration of VMs. In this manner, fault tolerance and scalability are provided. Cloud computing refers to both hardware, software and their infrastructure delivered as services over the Internet. The cloud model according to (NIST) promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models . The following five characteristics, as defined by NIST, are considered inherent in cloud computing services : 1. On-Demand Self-Service: Customers can automatically provision computing capabilities and resources on their own when needed without necessitating any human intervention. Broad Network Access: Access and capabilities are available over the network through standard devices, such as cell phones, laptops, PDAs, etc. Resource Pooling: Resources such as network bandwidth, virtual machines, memory, processing power, storage capacity, etc. are pooled together to serve multiple customers using a multi-tenant model. That is, virtual and physical resources are dynamically assigned and reassigned based on need and customers’ demands. Rapid Elasticity: Depending on demand, resources and capabilities can be quickly and automatically deployed and scaled at any quantity and at any time. Measured Service: Customer usage of the vendor’s resources and services are automatically monitored controlled and reported offering a high level of transparency for the customer and vendor. applications in the cloud via a variety of devices (e.g. cell phone, laptop, PDA). SaaS examples include MyErp.com, Salesforce.com and Workday.com. Google Docs, Twitter and Facebook also fall into this category. Cloud platform as a service (PaaS): Similar to SaaS, the vendor provides, manages and controls the cloud infrastructure, except for applications, which the customer has control over. The vendor provides tools and resources allowing the customers to create and/or acquire applications to meet their specific needs. PaaS vendor examples include Wolf Frameworks, Dell-Boomi Atmosphere, Heroku, Google App Engine and Microsoft’s Azure . Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS): The vendor provides, manages and controls the general cloud infrastructure but provides the customer control over operating systems, storage, processing, and networks on demand. IaaS vendor examples include Flexiant’s Flexscale, Rackspace and Amazon’s Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) and their Simple Storage Service (S3).
We must not assume that cloud products offered by any of the above services are likely to work out-of-the-box. In some cases they might, Google Apps, a messaging and collaboration cloud platform from Google, is probably one good example of those out-of-the-box products (even though it does require some level of configuration nevertheless). Many of the products that are offered by those three types of cloud services will require some degree of programming (by the user or the cloud provider) in order to access the functionality that exists in those services. Cloud providers will have created their own APIs (application programming interfaces) so that software developers can use them to create client applications in order to access that functionality. Deployment Models
Services offered by Cloud computing NIST  describes three service models: Cloud Software as a Service; Cloud Platform as a Service; and Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. The differentiators among these three service models are the nature of the service and the level of customer-vendor control and engagement. Furthermore, it should be noted that these models are not mutually exclusive; organizations can and do employ different cloud service models on varying scales for different departments within the organization based on specific needs.
These deployment models, as defined by NIST, are not defined by operator, location or physically but by the service offered and type of community. Similar to cloud service models, the deployment models are not mutually exclusive.
Cloud software as a service (SaaS): The vendor provides, manages and controls the underlying cloud infrastructure, including individual applications, network, storage, servers, operating systems, etc. The customer is able to fully access the vendor’s
Private cloud: The cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization. It may be managed by the organization or a third party, and may exist on premise or off premise. Community cloud: The cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, and policy and compliance considerations). It may be managed by the organizations or a third party, and may exist on premise or off premise. Public cloud: The cloud infrastructure is made available to the general public or to a large industry
WCSIT 3 (2), 38 -43, 2013 group, and is owned by an organization selling cloud services. Hybrid cloud: The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds). It is essential to understand that the service models, deployment models and the five characteristics of cloud computing as described by NIST  do not run independently but are necessarily interrelated and connected to each other. Jerry Bishop, the Chief Information Officer at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Wisconsin, created a visual (see Figure 1) that displays these inter-relationships and necessary connections of the NIST cloud computing characteristics and models (Bishop, 2011). This visual demonstrates that a cloudbased strategy can take on different configurations depending on the institution’s needs. It is not uncommon for institutions to begin with one service model, such as SaaS and a Public Cloud deployment model as a pilot, and then slowly scale if the pilot proves successful. It is also possibly to use several deployment models to support one or more service models (as indicated by the various red, green, and grey arrows) depending again on the institutional needs and costs. complexity of high performance computing systems. This benefit also meets the main slogan of the cloud computing industry.
Reducing resource cost: Universities can reduce or eliminate IT capital expenditures and decrease ongoing operating expenses by paying only for the services they use and potentially by reducing IT staff. Ease of implementation: Without the need to purchase hardware, software licenses, or implementation services, any university can deploy cloud computing easily. Elasticity and scalability: The cloud is elastic, meaning that resource allocation can get bigger or smaller depending on demand. Elasticity enables scalability, which means that the cloud can scale upward for peak demand and downward for lighter demand. Scalability also means that an application can scale when adding users and when application requirements change. Self-service provisioning: Cloud customers can provision cloud services without going through a lengthy process. The customer requests an amount of computing, storage, software, process, or more from the service provider. After these resources are used, they are automatically deprovisioned. Standardized interfaces: Cloud services have standardized APIs, which provide instructions on how two application or data sources can communicate with each other. A standardized interface lets the customer more easily link cloud services together. III. A PROPOSED MODEL FOR UNIVERSITIES USING CLOUD COMPUTING TECHNOLOGY IN JORDAN
To demonstrate how Cloud Computing services can be utilized and the processes involved in their utilization. We will take as an example of a typical Jordanian university with an IT infrastructure that should satisfy the needs of students, teaching staff and management, research staff and software developers (e.g., Web developers). As we all know the demand for IT services in this environment is directed to the IT Services Department (Computer Center) whose job is to:
Figure 1: Services Offered by Cloud Computing
CLOUD COMPUTING AS A POSSIBLE SOLUTION FOR THE CHALLENGES FACING HIGHER EDUCATION IN JORDAN Cloud computing services provide universities with the opportunity to continue to take advantage of the new IT technologies as it has the following advantages
- Provide students and staff with software (e.g., email accounts, operating systems, productivity applications, malware detectors and cleaners, etc.) and hardware (e.g., PCs, Servers, etc.). - Provide researchers and postgraduate students with the required special software and hardware to run experiments that are likely to involve a great deal of processing and computation. - Provide Web developers with the development tools needed to write and host Web applications.
Reducing management cost: Cloud computing could help Jordanian universities to reduce the operation and management cost. In particular, management cost is important as, with cloud computing, academic staff can focus on their own research, instead of dealing with the
WCSIT 3 (2), 38 -43, 2013
Figure 2: A Simplified structure of the main users of IT services in a typical Jordanian university.
Many aspects of the arrangement can be migrated to the cloud as demonstrated in Figure 3. For example, students, administrative staff and lecturers can be made to use the services of providers of SaaS and IaaS clouds. These services will be ideally accessed through thin clients. Any software launched by these groups of people resides on the servers of the SaaS cloud provider and is accessed online. Any requirement for disk space or additional hardware (e.g., a virtual PC or a virtual Server) is executed immediately online by the IaaS cloud provider. The same situation applies to the developers’ category in this scenario. Developers can now use all the software they need for their development online and all the hardware for hosting their applications through a PaaS cloud provider. Finally, researchers whose projects require a great deal of processing power and/or additional server capacity can do so at the click of a button through an IaaS cloud provider.
TABLE I. SERVICE MODEL OF A CLOUD ARCHITECTURE IN A TYPICAL JORDANIAN UNIVERSITY. SaaS Management
Business Applications Processes Collaboration Student Information
Figure 3: A Simplified structure of the main users of IT services in a typical Jordanian university using the services of cloud computing.
I believe that when considering a Cloud Strategy for Higher Education in typical universities in Jordan a very important point that should be taken into consideration is the data protection issue, special attention must be paid to the sensitive data from the university (for example, research results, students’ scholastic records, employees’ accounts). The main step that may be taken regarding data is to maintain the sensitive data within the institution data centers (Computer Center) and externalize the other data with the risk of achieving some latency for many applications and users The best development model is using a hybrid cloud since a public cloud is both owned and managed by the service provider and the university has no control on it, and its access is only limited by subscription, on the other hand the private cloud is owned and managed by the university and its accessed is limited only to students and faculty, staff of the university. To solve the data protection issue access to sensitive data should be limited, hence should be stored on the private cloud of the university, any other data should be stored on the public cloud so the users would take advantage of the new Cloud Computing technology, another good reason why should universities create their own private clouds for their own core applications. Many important steps should be taken in the preparation for cloud-computing adoption, whether public or private: 1. Identify all potential opportunities and benefits for switching from existing computing arrangements to cloud services. Ensure that in-house infrastructure complements cloudbased services. The shift to cloud services is not all-ornothing, and some cloud services (for instance, infrastructure services) will support the ability of in-house IT to extend into some clouds for additional compute and storage capacity. Virtualization will be a critical piece of a compatible infrastructure. Develop a cost/benefit and risk-evaluation framework to support decisions about where, when, and how you can adopt cloud services. Develop a roadmap for optimizing the current IT environment for adoption of public and
Servers Network Operating systems Computing
WCSIT 3 (2), 38 -43, 2013 private cloud services. Identify which, if any, data cannot be held in public cloud-computing environments for legal or security reasons. White Paper Identify and secure in-house competencies that will be required to manage effective adoption of cloud services. Evaluate technical challenges that must be addressed when moving any current information or applications into a cloud environment, even a private cloud. Ensure that the networking environment is ready for cloud computing. IV. POSSIBLE CHALLENGES THAT COULD FACE THE
Cloud computing is still young in terms of adoption in higher education. The expectation is that it will undergo several changes in the future, in terms of resources, issues, risks, and ultimately best practices and standards. However, there are some sought advantages that it can potentially provide value for institutions of higher education. On-demand services can resonate positively with the current university tight budgets across Jordan. Several benefits of the transition to cloud computing were pointed out in this paper along with concerns regarding the general implementation. The key question remains whether or not it makes sense from a business and strategic point of view to move to cloud computing and the answer is that it depends on various factors that were mentioned above. One main conclusion that we draw from this research is that cloud computing may have considerable potential in improving the IT application and infrastructure at higher education institutions. However, it is strongly recommended that early adopters plan the transition carefully and keep in close contact with organizations that establish industry standards, such as NIST, in order to ensure a uniform and smooth transition. Another important outcome is that it may be practical to follow a hybrid approach where, university IT management and administration may decide to pursue a hybrid approach thus transitioning some application and data to cloud computing while leaving others to be served in-house. REFERENCES
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The use of Cloud Computing in higher education must be analyzed both from the benefits point of view, as well as from that of the risks and limitations.
Not all applications run in cloud Security: The key concern is data privacy: users do not have control or know where their data is being stored. Interoperability: A universal set of standards and/or interfaces have not yet been defined, resulting in a significant risk of vendor lock-in. Control: The amount of control that the user has over the cloud environment varies greatly. Performance: All access to the cloud is done via the internet, introducing latency into every communication between the user and the environment. Reliability: Many existing cloud infrastructures leverage commodity hardware that is known to fail unexpectedly.
Regarding the implementation risks, a research conducted by the IDC Enterprise Panel  concluded that the primary concerns about adoption in higher education are: security, performance and availability, not enough ability to customize, worried on-demand will cost more, bringing back in-house may be difficult, regulatory requirements prohibit cloud, and not enough major suppliers yet. I must emphasize that the security and data protection risks is the main concern about the adoption of cloud computing in higher education. The transfer of the research results and the knowledge between cloud and networks and moving the knowledge to external providers may become an attractive target to attackers. These aspects, according to a study conducted by EDUCAUSE based on 372 member institutions , are considered top barriers. The most important risks regarding security are: loss of governance, lock-in, isolation failure, compliance risks, management interface compromise, data protection, insecure or incomplete data deletion, and malicious insider .
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