Friday, 13 May 2011

eduserv Symposium Round up

A quick round up of some of the eduserv symposium sessions which I haven't blogged about in detail.

We had a lightening round - 4 very quick talks on different aspects of the UMF money which has been allocated to shared services in cloud computing. I've posted about this many times before, so won't go into much detail, but a couple of interesting extra items came up.

Dan Perry from JANET talked about the brokerage service. It's aim is to facilitate the uptake of off-campus datacentres and cloud centres. Is it cost saving, or quality and service improvement? A blend of both. Also reducing risk, addressing technical and business questions, easier to do as a broker.
The JANET brokerage role is a cross between a dating agency and marriage guidance. Wonderful quote, I look forward to seeing it in action!

Matt from eduserv gave an outline of the cloud services they are developing for education. These are designed to address the major concerns of HEIs, including ensuring that the data remains in UK, that they are integrated with JANET and are low cost. They will operate out of Eduserv's new Swindon data centre with Janet connectivity, and by this summer will provide a shared services platform which the UMF services will run on. By the end of the year a sustainable business model will be in place. He confirmed that they are looking to compete with Amazon on price.

Phil Richards from Loughborough University talked about his views of cloud computing, especially after some recent work he's had to do which started off looking at how to rebuild his old data centre.

There's two sorts of IT activities: complex and innovative, and commodity.
We need to differentiate between the two, and outsource or share the latter. This will be a dynamic equilibrium as today's complex will become tomorrow's commodity.

We have a great distribution network for our commodity in JANET which the private sector has to invent. So when HP went to a private cloud and reduced their data centres from 85 to 6, they had to invest $100ms to create their own network. Still made enormous savings. Industrial scale can give huge savings in power.
Greenpeace just released a report called How dirty is your data which gives size of corporate data centres, eg Microsoft at 303,000 sq feet, and many others similar. Is this where the critical mass is for power? If so, we're way behind, eg eduserv's is 37,000.

What's the killer app for HE/FE cloud? Is is Research tools or admin apps? More likely to be cheap virtual servers via a hybrid cloud, achieved by JANET brokerage.

There has to be an exit strategy mitigated by migration back to local cloud.

Definition of not having an exit strategy. Owning an iPod and iPhone, buying lots of music from iTunes, and then deciding to buy an android device.

Terence Harmer, from the Belfast eScience centre talked about their experience of cloud.

The BeSC is entirely self funding, don't use shared resources within the University infrastructure. They have no internal infrastructure for mail, calendars, chat rooms, and all project shared services have migrated to utility resources. They are in the business of turning internal kit off. Users are not interested in kit, but capabilities. They buy capacity and storage on demand, and play the market.
His advice? Don't go into cloud half heartedly. Don't pick up your server room and put it with a provider. That's not a cloud, it's a bunch of kit.
Don't adopt a single vendor.

The cost of cloud infrastructure is low. You can punch above your weight if you go cloud properly. They have 10 staff and 300 servers running simultaneously.

Interesting fact about the scale of digital media scale. The current entire BBC archive is 52PB, but iPlayer pumps out about 7 PB every month. That's why ISPs don't like streaming media.

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