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What is the Cloud?

You can't help but hear about "the Cloud" these days. Everything is moving to "the Cloud". At the University of Minnesota (not just Morris, the entire system) we are leveraging more Cloud services. One example of Cloud is our Google Initiative, moving away from our old "Cougarmail" email system and UMCal calendar to a University-branded Google Gmail and Google Calendar.

"Cloud" is a common term for Software as a Service ("SaaS"). Under this scenario, the application and the infrastructure (servers) are based on a "multi-tenant" application hosted by a large service provider. By leveraging the Cloud, the University takes advantage of economies of scale, which reduces our costs to provide that service. Gmail is much less expensive for the University, for example, than running our own email systems. And since Gmail is also used by so many others ("multi-tenant" application) Google can provide a common set of services that benefits everyone.

IT organizations typically see a reduction in operational expenses associated with using a Cloud service, like Gmail. Using Cloud or SaaS means our staff don't have to support patching, incident management (outages), or application change management. In the case of Gmail, the University only needs to manage the email accounts - Google does everything else for us.

We're always working to provide the best benefits for the campus, while lowering our costs. Cloud and SaaS are one way to help us do that.