IBM today announced a cloud-computing service that will let universities and colleges build custom private clouds that can be integrated into public cloud services. IBM also has a similar initiative underway for K-12 schools.
The IBM SmartCloud for Education, as it's called, "is an infrastructure service," says Mike King, vice president of global education industry at IBM. The service is built on IBM hardware servers and uses open software from the Virtual Computing Lab which is built by and for education under a collaboration project that started a number of years ago with North Carolina State University. Some technology developed by IBM has been donated to the Apache Foundation.
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A second component of IBM's cloud computing services is called Decision Management for Education, a software-as-a-service option that can bring together an institution's information in order to make real-time decisions based on analytical technologies from IBM SPSS.
King notes IBM has worked with the University of Rhode Island's College of Pharmacy to make use of cloud-based analytics to help researchers accomplish tasks such as more easily finding research, funding opportunities or collaborators around the world.
IBM's SmartCloud for Education aims to work with universities to design cloud services that could help them better tackle tasks such as analyzing student enrollment and retention, identifying students at risk of failing, and managing financial aid as well as campus security.
Universities, as well as K-12 schools, today often have sophisticated networks in place and the intention is to integrate with them in a flexible way through technologies IBM has, including IBM BladeCenter for the cloud and Tivoli Cloud Suite for cloud provisioning. IBM believes the "long-term vision is hybrid clouds," says King, describing combined private and public cloud resources.