Academic Digital

Hey, you, get off of my cloud: are scholars too selfish to share IT?

Academics must change to get the best from technology, Jisc hears. Hannah Fearn reports

Academics are failing to make the most of universities’ cloud computing services because of their lack of technical expertise and their reluctance to share resources, a conference has heard.

Speaking in Liverpool last week at Jisc’s annual conference, Paul Watson, professor of computer science at Newcastle University, said that universities must change to realise the huge benefits of the technology. They would have to invest in it as a way to encourage research innovation, not simply as a cost-saving measure, he argued.

Cloud computing allows users to access servers or applications remotely, with the result that universities can share services rather than having to invest in technology separately.

But most providers, including Google and Microsoft, offer very basic cloud computing services, and these require a high level of technical skill to adapt for academic use, the conference heard.

“One of the things we’ve found is that working researchers don’t have (the necessary) IT skills,” Professor Watson said.

“They’re very good at using computing to transform what they do, but don’t have the skills themselves” to take full advantage of cloud computing, he added.

Read full story, and check out what the University of Salford are doing in ‘World Wide What’.