Why and How You Should Include Cloud Computing Technologies in Your Curriculum?

Cloud computing is a fast-growing collaborative learning tool for students. So, let’s talk about some concrete examples of cloud computing being included in the curriculum for different engineering programs and some tips for teaching cloud computing so that students can get the most from it.

As mentioned in my previous blog, Enterprise Cloud Computing is a computing environment that provides software (SaaS), infrastructure (IaaS), and platforms (PaaS) as services to an organization. Often these services are accessible off-site to multiple clients via an Internet connection, in what is known as the public cloud.

Public cloud providers offer easy scalability, with the ability to provision hardware, software, and platforms on-demand without costly capital investment. Another option is the private cloud, in which hardware and software are provided to one specific client using a private network connection [2]. The private cloud offers much better security and control over important data, but it’s more costly to set up and maintain such infrastructures.

Some companies combine public and private clouds into a hybrid cloud setup that gives the best of both worlds. Hybrid cloud adoption is actually the preferred enterprise strategy for cloud computing nowadays. Most companies now use some type of cloud for their workloads; they run 41% of workloads in a public cloud and 38% in a private cloud [3].

Cloud Computing in Engineering Curriculums

Cloud computing provides many benefits to engineers, including the ability to access software from anywhere in the world and improved productivity as a result of easier project management and collaboration. Furthermore, engineering firms can use the cloud to backup important data. Therefore, it is a surprise that more engineering courses don’t offer dedicated cloud computing modules. Here, there are two examples of where cloud computing is included in different engineering programs, and what the syllabus includes.

  • The American Military University has an undergraduate online program specifically dedicated to cloud computing [5]. The course entails a detailed curriculum on the key principles of cloud computing, including security, privacy, and service-oriented architecture.
  • The University of Illinois (UIUC) has a Master of Computer Science degree which cloud computing plays an important role in [6]. As described on the course website, “students gain graduate-level expertise in four core areas of computer science: data visualization, machine learning, data mining and cloud computing.”

What a course should and shouldn’t include to make it more applicable to a working environment?

Any cloud computing module should go beyond the basic terminology to focus on aspects of cloud computing that are applicable in modern enterprises so that students are best equipped to work in such environments.

  • Teach students about a cloud ecosystem and how all of its layers come together to create a well-functioning cloud deployment.
  • Focus on how to go from logical designs into real-world implementations as cloud services.
  • Teach students how to evaluate whether an organization is equipped with the right assets, such as security and governance policies to implement cloud computing in the right way, with the fewest risks to both compliance and data.
  • Give a detailed breakdown of cloud orchestration and its benefits for making cloud deployments more efficient, specifically by automating the provisioning of cloud services using policy-based tools. Orchestration is taking on more importance with the increased use of hybrid setups.
  • Educate students about application architecture in the cloud [7], including decoupling data from applications, and other important design principles that can help people build smooth-functioning cloud-native apps.
  • Discuss how to optimize the cloud deployment for the best performance with maximum agility. Focus on optimizing network connections and making sure that no bottlenecks occur in the functioning of critical IT services that operate in hybrid, public, or private cloud setups.
  • Security is an important IT concern for all enterprises and organizations. Sensitive data needs to be protected from the huge range of cyber threats that are constantly evolving. Therefore, students should learn about Cloud security and Cloud Backup. Cloud backup services allow businesses to mitigate continuity risks associated with using the public cloud.

These tips will help ensure any modules focusing on cloud computing are comprehensive and relevant to the challenges faced in the real-world by organizations and enterprises that are moving to the cloud. Graduates will, therefore, be equipped with a level of cloud computing knowledge upon commencement of their degrees that can help increase their attractiveness as employees.



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