Why College Kids Should Tune In to the Cloud

By David Garrison, M.L.S., Program Director, Information Systems Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
David Garrison, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
David Garrison, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

For most people, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, is a relatively small university in the midwest.

However, this institution has a scope and reach that leverages industry on a global scale. As such, we are committed to training young professionals with the most relevant skills possible that will help them secure high-value jobs upon graduation. These days, that starts with training them in the latest skills in cloud computing.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Until recently, if someone mentioned “the cloud” to my students, they might have looked to the sky. Today, many now understand that cloud computing architectures are the foundation for big business around the world. But it’s more personal than that. Many recognize that much of their own content (homework, music, pictures, etc.) are stored somewhere else and simply accessed via the cloud. They also understand that computing services, mobile apps, and other content delivering services, are all consumed via the cloud. (In fact, the awareness is so great, that I sometimes wonder if this new generation is even aware of the brief history of the software license.) No, to our students, the cloud is where they get, store and share their information.

That is why Saint Mary’s University, like a growing number of other academic institutions, recently partnered with IBM to establish a core set of competencies and a curriculum that will create a solid foundation for the next generation of cloud developers.

Critical to this mission is providing corporations with the talent to make the cloud an even more powerful business platform.

According to a recent survey of more than 800 business and IT leaders, released by IBM this week, organizations embracing cloud computing are expecting to almost double their revenue and gross profit growth, compared to those taking a more cautious approach.

The survey also noted that 72 percent of respondents considered the cloud of strategic importance, more than double the number from last year. In addition, the study found that leading organizations are using the cloud for strategic reinvention, better decisions and deeper collaboration – skills that every college graduate must showcase in order to get their dream job or launch their first startup.

Other key findings of the IBM study include:

  • 136% are more likely to use cloud to reinvent customer relationships
  • 170% are more likely to use cloud-based analytics to derive insights
  • 79% are more likely to rely on cloud to locate and leverage expertise in the ecosystem

Indicators such as these reinforce our belief that the study of cloud is increasingly critical for students majoring in everything from marketing to finance.

It’s also the reason behind much of our cloud curriculum. Consider our Advanced Cloud Computing Technique class. Students in this class are required to create a business case, develop a virtualization plan, design a mobile access architecture. They’re then required to model the servers, storage, and network resources necessary to support the project on a cloud environment.

Here are a few examples of some of our current student projects:

  • Retailing Nigerian Apparel: This project models the cloud computing architecture necessary to establish a supply chain and operate a cloud-based retail store.
  • Ghana Medical Cloud: This project models the cloud computing architecture necessary to establish a cloud database that doctors can access via tablet or smartphone.
  • Custom Computers for Africa: This project models the cloud computing architecture necessary to operate a cloud-based retail store exclusive to African customers.
  • Gems in the Cloud: This project models the cloud computing architecture necessary to track raw gems through a finishing process then return them to customers.

As one can tell, the power of the cloud and its geographic reach provide the university the ability to move from a learning environment to a business implementation model all in the same year.

Based on our work with IBM, we have an opportunity, if not an obligation to our students, to deepen our commitment to them through the transformational field of cloud computing.

This post originally published on asmarterplanet.com.

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