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So the “next big thing” is here in the U.S. Government and Military sector; Cloud Computing.  But for years there has been significant resistance against putting an organizations resources and essence into a far off computing land.  The Cloud is being targeted to provide unprecedented amounts of savings to solve part of the budgetary catastrophe.  What really hasn’t been done yet is a significant forethought to provide how to implement, transition, and protect these Cloud capabilities from the government side of things.

In  Icebergs in the Clouds: the Other Risks of Cloud Computing, Bryan Ford looks to address several specific issues:

  1. Stability risks due to unpredictable interactions between independently developed but interacting cloud computations;
  2. Availability risks due to non-transparent layering resulting in hidden failure correlations; and
  3. Preservation risks due to the unavailability of a cloud service’s essential code and data outside of the provider.

While difficult to foresee the major issues of this transition by the public sector to Cloud Computing Bryan’s paper looks to address these issues in case they fully materialize.

From my personal perspective the cloud shift should provide a great deal of monetary savings but I don’t think the expected gains will be fully realized.  For more then a decade the war chest of funds has been too open.  This allowed independent acquisition and implementation of what equates to personal server farms throughout countless organizations.  The lack of empowerment provided to the CIO in most organizations continued to allow this to occur.  Combine these issues with organizations that do have significant and vital operations to maintain and you have a battle that a weak CIO (both in technical and organizational prowess) cannot win.

What are you seeing in your organization?  What do you think of the Cloud transition?

[via Cornell University Library]

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Founded in 1901 and now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guides many things.  NIST “measurements support the smallest of technologies—nanoscale devices so tiny that tens of thousands can fit on the end of a single human hair—to the largest and most complex of human-made creations, from earthquake-resistant skyscrapers to wide-body jetliners to global communication networks.”

This document provides the definition of Cloud Computing.  NIST isn’t known for being able to convey things perfectly ingestible to normal humans so you may want to take a look at the piece from INSA on Cloud Computing.

To cut to the chase the Definition provided by NIST and that should then be used by U.S. Goverment for Cloud Computing is:

“Cloud computing is 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.”

I think NIST did a decent job in this definition.  Now weather the U.S. Government and Department of Defense are able to effectively use this definition and physically employ Cloud Computing capabilities will be a different matter.  It always helps to know the definition first to ensure everyone is operating from the same basic understanding.

[via NIST]

So I talked about how to learn to write a Fibonacci Function using Khan Academy’s free lessons and their offerings are very good.  What do I like better?  When another group gets into competition with something like Khan Academy.  Enter TED-Ed.

TED has been putting out and putting on significantly thought provoking presentations for many years now.  What they’ve done now is modify their format a bit, tighten up their time requirements, and utilize their video serving infrastructure to get into a form of Massive Open Online Courses.  In the age of video based instruction and a generation that is willing to watch and listen those with the tools to produce and serve will ultimately be better off.  I think TED’s entry into this area will be a beneficial thing and provide some competition as I’m sure several other entities will also take their crack at it.

This kind of education capability does two things in my mind.  Allows for penetration to those that are only able to afford an internet connection and not the costly price tag of a major education institution.  Second it builds on the baseline of education.  If I can watch and learn everything that I am “required” to learn, in lets say 6th grade, then I can shorten the time it takes to accomplish this and spend my time delving deeper into the items that interest me further in those lessons.  We have already been experiencing this phenomenon over the years with students becoming bored with their instruction and lessons.  But I believe much of that is due to the unchanging baseline that has existed (relatively) over the past half century.

What do you think?  How do you ensure they are really understanding?  How do you instill that “lifelong learning” desire into students?

[via TED-Ed]

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