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2020: The Campus Data Center Follows the Computer Lab
July 22, 2010 - 9:13pm

This prediction can't be correct. If the campus data center is really going to suffer the same fate as the computer lab by 2020 then something is really strange with our current reality. We hear everyday about how the data center is growing faster than we keep up. Not enough power. Not enough cooling. Not enough storage. We are virtualizing, expanding and collocating. It is never enough.

 

But couldn't we have said the same thing about the campus computer lab in 2000? Weren't we facing a crisis of over-subscribed computer labs back then? Wasn't much of the talk about replacement cycles, and the potential of thin clients to alleviate the demands of buying full-blown computers for our labs? Did we really imagine that for many of us (I know, some of us are still building computer labs today), that the availability of inexpensive laptops and netbooks would be driving the computer lab into obsolescence?

 

What would it take for our data center's to migrate to the cloud by 2020?:

 

Bandwidth: In 2010 I'm still doubtful that hosting all of our campus media in the cloud is feasible. As the amount of video on our networks increase (from lecture capture, rapid authoring, and streaming of curricular media), it is unclear to me what would occur if all of this video (increasing in hi-def) would perform if it all had to be uploaded and retrieved from the cloud. When will our network gateways be ready for this type of traffic?

 

Trust: We don't seem ready to trust our data to other people. I'm not talking about FERPA protected data, which I'm not sure will ever be stored outside of our campus owned systems (although I could be wrong). I'm thinking of even our digital curricular and library content. Teaching and learning depends on our LMS and library systems being available at all times - and most of us are nervous about the idea of not controlling this content.

 

Risk: Who is going to make the first decision to move all their campus data to the cloud? This seems like it could be a career ending decision if things go badly. While many services seem to be moving to the cloud (such as e-mail and calendaring), it still appears that the demands for servers and storage are growing at a faster rate than any cloud migration (hence the move to virtualization etc.). Someone is going to have to be willing to leapfrog current practices. Someone is going to have to take a risk. Is this being done anywhere? Do we have examples of an entire campus that consumes all of their data center applications and storage needs as a service?

 

What is your prediction for the year 2020?

 

 

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