Friday, 17 June 2011

EUNIS round up

Interesting presentation yesterday from Campus IT, called from Zero to Live in 4 weeks.

They developed a postgraduate application system for the Dublin Institute of Technology, with a very tight time frame for implementation of less than 6 weeks.
The process consisted of a downloadable form which was printed, filled in, posted with attachments. No validation, lots of missing information. Long slow process, and during it applicants were lost. 5 staff working on it. Needed quicker system, more user friendly and tailored, collecting better data.

The IT department had no spare resources, and coupled with the tight deadline, so went for hosted system which is in the Amazon cloud. The system was developed quickly, and a prototype produced in weeks which was tested on academics, who had to apply for own course, then deal with application, and reject it. This produced a list of change requests. Because the system is configurable by business users, not developers, the 5 staff in admissions office made changes in a few days.

System ready in 4 weeks. End users continuously improving it, changing questions, messages, workflows etc. Put onto web in 6 hours, on every course screen. Not integrated with student system, but could be future development.

Good example of rapid development and deployment, and interesting that it's hosted in a public cloud.

This morning we heard from John Dyer from Terena on how national research networks can serve the community. Terena is 25 years old, and is the association of research networks of Europe. Some interesting facts about networks including our own JANET which when it was formed in 1983 it had a 9.6kbps backbone! Now it's 100 Gbps, which is a millionfold increase. Good presentation on issues facing networks, including federated access, cloud, and security and privacy issues. Also the data deluge, the massive amounts of data being produced by research projects.

Final presentation from the conference was William Florance from Google Apps, on Consumerisation, Commoditisation,Cloud and the limits of the new normal. The Cloud is not a passing trend, it's here to stay. It matters to education, and there are risks, but they are addressable.

Lots of trends linked to cloud including consumerisation, bring your own technology, commoditisation. Email now heavily commoditised.
Why does cloud matter? If you don't embrace it, you'll miss the opportunity to innovate. Don't know what the future is, but there are clues. Students are in a totally digital world, don't know the analogue one.

Interesting hypothesis that in the end the amount of information we ingest will inevitable move to zero, (think thesis report, memo, email, twitter.....).
But, the capacity for the average user to access the information they they desire is limitless, the limit of depth goes to infinity.
Information wants to be free. The limit of price, at least in education, goes to zero. Think MIT course materials on line, and the Khan Academy.(60million lessons watched around the world, you tube videos, and an environment built on google apps).

Don't waste valuable resources on things that are commoditised.

The limit of privacy will be one of most difficult to solve. The risks of cloud computing are fundamentally no different than the risks with any other industry commoditisation. You need to Trust, but verify, look for clearly articulated privacy policies and a history and pattern of security.

Good final presentation and end to the conference. Slightly surreal this morning, as I was in a pub at 8am, before the sessions started, watching a guitarist break the world record for continuous playing. We've been watching him most evenings, and some early mornings. He played for 114 hours non stop, and when he reached the record everyone was sprayed with champagne, so I came into the conference sessions slightly damp and smelling of alcohol! And I had resisted the temptation to have a pint of Guinness for breakfast and stuck to coffee. Will probably write something and share some photos and videos on other blog.

Edit:  Here they are.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Dan said...

Hi Chris,

Another good article, thanks. One point to highlight - the core of JANET is now running at 100 gigabit per second, rather than 10 gbs, so add another nought to the increase!

JANET @ 100gbs


Chris Sexton said...

ooops. Sorry, that's what I intended to put. Never was very good with numbers!