Cloud Options: Amazon, Google & Microsoft

Cloud Computing (or my preferred term, Utility Computing) is probably my main area of interest right now – I think mobile technology is a close second though. The issue of educational institutions moving away from providing masses of storage, email services, expensive applications, etc. and toward a hosted setup is something I can see happening…just not sure when.

The topic is starting to get talked about more and more though and, unsurprisingly, it can lead to a bit of a mess of ideas. Cloud Computing, SaaS (Software as a Service), Shared Services, Outsourcing…it can – and does – seem to be getting lumped together in one box and I think that’s down to audience perhaps. When I think of this area I’m not thinking about payroll systems and other administrative areas but the interface between institution and student. Institutions creating email accounts for students and then having to setup and maintain the servers. Same goes for data storage…as students take increasing advantage of images, audio and video just how much of a hole does that burn into an institution’s budget when it comes to having the space for it all? Does a student care where their data is physically stored or their email is provided from? Should they? All questions that will be addressed over the coming months as part of the CETIS Working Group.

So, to the title of this post – I came upon (in a roundabout way, as you do in the Blogosphere) this rather helpful overview of the current Cloud offerings of ‘The Big 3′ on the blog of a guy called Scott Watermasysk. In it Scott gives a high-level comparison of the services in the Cloud that are being offered by Amazon, Google and Microsoft and his personal take on these.

I think for those people that are starting to look at this area and fancy an easily digestible introduction to what the current state of play is (not exhaustive, no, but a start) then this blog post ticks the box. Then all we have to do is dig further down to include the operators outside of these 3 and tease out the issues specific to education…dead easy! ;)

Scott’s blog post is at

One thought on “Cloud Options: Amazon, Google & Microsoft

  1. Hi Manuel – I agree, there are other providers out there…I just found that intro-type blog post on the Big 3 a useful pointer. The question, for me, is around sustainability and reliability.

    How many of the many other vendors out there have business models/revenue models that are strong enough to “go the distance”? Then, how easily could we find ourselves basically being tied to those Big 3 to reduce the risks…thus making a bit of a monopoly when it comes to the network itself? So where the network, the cloud would suggest we’re all set free, we really wouldn’t be in truth.

    As for an example in education, there are pockets of it happening here and there (particularly when it comes to talk of ‘outsourcing’ student email) but I suspect we’ll see things really start to happen over the next couple of years. For me it’s data storage that I’ll be watching (amongst everything else). Does an institution relinquish control and accept students storing their data all over the place in the cloud (and try to provide expert guidance)…or does it go further and enter into an explicit agreement with an external service provider such as Amazon’s S3 and, thereby, reduce its in-house costs?

    Interesting times ahead I think!

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