I was up late last night talking to some of my very old contracting buddies from a long time in my past. We were talking about the adoption of cloud computing in the enterprise, and the influence that is having on the ability to hire employees who really get cloud computing, virtualization, security, cryptography, and a ton of other things that you can do on someone else’s hardware and disk images.
There are a number of challenges with this idea.
- Cloud computing did not originate in the college environment, there are few colleges that are taking cloud computing seriously enough to be developing or teaching courses in this subject like MIT.
- Cloud computing is truly multi-disciplined, in that the average system admin needs to understand a bit about networking, virtualization, routing, data movement, data use, process management, and security to be helpful to an organization using cloud computing.
- Educators are not prepared to teach cloud computing – in general with a broad paint bush, many computer science educators at all but the most prestigious colleges are simply not able to teach this not so new but still cutting edge technology.
- Cuts in funding – everyone everywhere has had their budgets slashed while we wait for consumers to come back and start spending again. This includes colleges because many colleges budgets are tied to the states budgets that are tied directly or indirectly to sales tax, use tax, B&O tax, or the many other ways that government taxes both businesses and consumers to accomplish tasks.
- Cloud Computing is generally ill understood by the general public, including governments, workers, and corporations. It is not enough to teach virtualization, you have to teach automation, design, architecture, monitoring, and with a dearth of tools out there, in many cases, you have to teach enough scripting or programming to get the tasks accomplished.
While it would be great to have contractors come into colleges to help solve all the problems, contractors in many cases are prohibitively expensive in the real world of education. The market might be there for endowed large state or private colleges that have high tuition and can attract brand name scientists. Every other college out there is going to have a very hard time teaching to cloud computing because the general skill set amongst a majority of instructors is not there at the community college level, or in some cases even the private college level.
This is not a market for contractors, but this is a market for teaching these skills to instructors so that they can take them back to their colleges and then teach the students what they know.
We all sort of understand the idea of life long learning, and that in technology explicitly the need to continually learn new stuff is important to keeping your job. It is also important that instructors keep up their own skills and learn from people who know and understand the new technologies that are rolling out. Many instructors use technology, but many also cannot tell you how it works. Ask them to diagnose a network and the first thing they are doing is calling the help desk.
We need to work out a way to incentivize or otherwise reward instructors for learning new stuff that can be brought back into the classroom. But then we run head long into budgets again. In an ideal world we would be learning, guiding, mentoring and repeating this process in the collegiate world. But we are facing the same issues that many companies are facing, with instructors with outdated skills teaching students stuff they needed to know two years ago.
How we address this issue is probably one of the more important things we can do to at least try to regain our competitive edge on an international level.
- How Cloud Computing Makes You More Competitive (datacenterknowledge.com)
- CityTech Presenting at April Cloud Computing Seminar (prweb.com)
- Big Question (Answered): What Else is There to Cloud Computing? (readwriteweb.com)
- Build Clouds, Be Awesome, Win Prizes!! (blogs.cisco.com)