Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

UK universities to combat data deluge with Education Cloud

A new cloud platform from Eduserv could help UK universities deal with periods of high demand

Article comments

Non-profit IT service provider Eduserv has announced the launch of its Education Cloud, giving universities and colleges in the UK access to storage and processing power on demand.

The Education Cloud enables higher education institutions to increase and decrease capacity throughout the academic year, to deal with peaks and troughs in demand. It features compute and storage offerings under both VMware vCloud and OpenStack, and supports virtual machines running Windows and Linux.

The cloud platform is hosted from Eduserv's data centre in Swindon, which is built on a UCS infrastructure with Isilon storage and 10Gb Cisco networking throughout. It has direct connectivity to the JANET backbone, providing fast access to UK's education and research network.

The new solution is part of the University Modernisation Fund's Cloud Pilot which has been developed with funding from the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) and the Joint Information System Committee (JISC). The Cloud Pilot was originally developed to host the software-as-a-service (SaaS) projects being undertaken at several UK higher education institutions.

According to Andy Powell, Eduserv's research programme director, universities are starting to look at cloud computing as a way to deal with huge peaks in demand during certain times of the year, such as clearing and graduation. This is in contrast to the summer months, when most students are on holiday.

“IT directors in universities are typically already running vSphere in-house and want to extend that into the cloud, either to just give them additional resource, or possibly as a DR (data recovery) facility, or possibly just to burst out into the cloud at times of peak demand,” said Powell.

He explained that Eduserv is currently focusing on delivering VMware vCloud, because VMware is already used widely within in the education community, so it is relatively easy to migrate virtual machines from local infrastructure into the cloud. However, the organisation eventually also wants to offer OpenStack, which can be provided at a lower price point because there are no licensing costs.

“That we see primarily being of more interest to individual researchers – so researchers who have requirements for large-scale compute, or perhaps for storage in the cloud, or perhaps for both,” said Powell.

The Education Cloud has two pricing models: Pay-as-you-go and “Virtual Datacentre”. The pay-as-you-go model allows institutions to pay for what they use, so if a university has periods of high demand followed by periods of low demand, then its monthly billing will peak and trough in response to that.

“From their point of view that's quite a good thing,” said Powell. “They're not having to provision enough resource to cover the peaks in demand that then sit idle during the troughs.”

The Virtual Datacentre option, meanwhile, allows universities to pay a flat monthly rate. Those that are willing to commit upfront to a year's worth of a certain amount of compute resource and a certain amount of storage will get a discount on Eduserv's pay-as-you-go pricing for committing upfront.

“We think directors of IT, or IT service departments in institutions, are probably more likely to be interested in the more predictable Virtual Datacentre model, whereas individual researchers are more likely to just want resource when they need it and not pay for it at any other time, and therefore they're more likely to go for a pay-as-you-go model,” said Powell.

The Education Cloud is already hosting four university SaaS pilot projects – two in Oxford, one in Leicester and one in Southampton. Liverpool University's Digital Academic Record Exchange (DARE) project, which aims to make certain documents available to employers securely, is also hosted on the Education Cloud.

While Eduserv's cloud platfom is initially targeted at higher education in the UK, it is built on the organisation's community cloud infrastructure, which is much more broadly applicable. Eventually,  Eduserve wants to offer community clouds in other areas, such as government, charity and health.

“By selling cloud services across education, government, other charities, health, ultimately we'll be able to realise much bigger economies of scale than we could do if we were just selling to UK education,” added Powell.


More from Techworld

More relevant IT news


Andy Powell said: Note that the lead partner on the DARE project is Liverpool John Moores University not Liverpool University as stated

Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *