Hybrid Clouds Offer Flexibility—and Challenges

By Bob Violino Print this article Print
Hybrid Clouds

Hybrid cloud environments come with a variety of challenges that companies will need to address if they're to be successful with this type of IT environment.

"We send a student's identification to the [DoE], and it goes to their cloud, and the numbers come back to us," Thirsk explains. "It's a great use of a utility" offered by the DoE to colleges so they can provide fast information on financial aid to students. "It gives us skill sets that we don't have [but] we need."

Marist used to handle these calculations on its own servers, but that took longer, used up in-house capacity and required frequent server updates. The college is also saving several hundred thousand dollars each year by avoiding the expensive coding costs needed to develop applications, which it now can obtain via cloud services.

The cloud also leverages a public cloud in Europe to access a variety of academic software provided by Apereo, a network of institutions that develops and maintains a number of educational software projects. As a member of Apereo, Marist has access to the organization's Open Academic Environment, a multitenant platform for researchers, students and faculty to connect and collaborate.

With this capability, a Marist student can enroll in a course running on a platform in Europe from the Marist network.

By providing easy access to other institutions' learning programs via the cloud, Marist is saving money by not having to hire additional professors for specific course programs, Thirsk says.

The college also uses cloud services to enable collaboration in other ways with a variety of institutions.  For instance, if an educator from Europe is visiting the campus and wants to log into his own campus cloud, he can do so via Marist's network and integration technology that allows for a cloud-to-cloud connection.

One of the biggest challenges of a hybrid cloud environment is maintaining a high level of security, particularly with public clouds. "We have to protect data at rest and a lot of data in transit, to make sure it's secure," Thirsk says.

"We have to write very strict privacy contracts with public cloud providers. It can be difficult because many of those companies are start-ups, and they're not very mature about how they handle security and data protection. It can take months to write a contract."


This article was originally published on 2015-07-23

Bob Violino, a Baseline contributor, is a freelance writer and the editorial director at Victory Business Communications.

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