Credits: David Blaikie @ flickr.com/photos/nikonvscanon/ © edited by Amish Gir
Educators and researchers today navigate an extensive labyrinth of “proper channels” to grant their innovative ideas. Factors that slow down your progress include resources and funding limitations. This is where utility cloud can give you the competitive edge. Cloud computing like Amazon Web Services (AWS) endows your in-house resources with a compute and storage rich installment that you can call on any time. So now, the scope, enterprise output and reach to your audience/peers is easy to attain on a small budget.
This is where AWS’ Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) utility is the leader in integrating with your existing setup: infrastructure and admin. This article outlines HE, FE and Enterprise case-studies, showing you how they have harnessed the power of the hybrid cloud model to realise their projects.
I’ll cover how you can trial and procure AWS on the educator’s network (JISC) and why this is a key development that gives you quick access to these resources when you need them.
JISC’s (educators network) procurement portal works seamlessly with research policies enabling simple access and management of resources. Once signed up you can apply grant funding, provision accounts for colleagues (integration with active directory) with fine-grain control over resource access topped off with direct invoicing in pounds with transparent usage and cost tools.
Currently educators have trialled AWS by using their personal credit cards to sign up – this is not ideal! JISC simplifies the entire process, offering access to AWS without the need or commitment via other forms of payment. Through a simple migration facility you can move users over to the portal on JISC to gain these benefits, together with an intuitive user interface and acclaimed technical support, JISC delivers all your requirements for managing and achieving all your deadlines and goals.
To view the benefits and deliverables of JISC click here.
Time to Science
Credits: Sean MacEntee @ flickr.com/photos/smemon/ (C)
Why Choose AWS?
Starting out with AWS is fast! there’s no lengthy procurement or setup time as with traditional physical infrastructure. Starting up computing resources takes minutes not weeks and you only use what you need (real-time utility computing). AWS infrastructure is highly customisable to accommodate your existing applications and natively supports your choice of development languages. The agnosticism of AWS extends to using existing software licenses.
What’s the overall benefit? The time for you to deploy an application, process swathes of data and output the results is slashed, all at a significantly cheaper cost compared with buying your own infrastructure to support large projects.
A case study from San Francisco State University exemplifies AWS economies of scale. The resource intensive “machine learning” project FEATURE required resources beyond the capacity that was available in-house. Professor Petkovic’s team needed a service that could be scaled up on demand and cost effective.
“The pay-as-you-go model of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) was the most appropriate option versus owning a large server in-house,” The limiting shared computing resources in-house forced researchers to re-size the scope of their questions or face delays for available resources.
“The team had a small, 40-node in-house cluster. We compared this to the cloud and found that Amazon EC2 was vastly superior in terms of CPU cycles per cost…our scientists are always engaged and not waiting for results. AWS greatly reduced our turnaround time for scientific inquiry.”
“We estimate that a small, 40-node in-house cluster runs at $ 1.71 per computer unit per hour. In comparison, Amazon EC2 costs us only $0.08 per equivalent elastic computer unit (ECU) per hour,” Professor Petkovic, San Francisco State University. Professor Dragutin Petkovic, San Francisco State University 
AWS offers a myriad of benefits and when mixed with your physical environment the deliverables include:
- Cost savings – allowing you to extend the life of your project to well beyond the life of the physical infrastructure in-house. The utility, operational expenditure model offers flexibility in pricing. You can pre-pay for services like “dedicated instance” and save up to 57% on costs.
- Easy administration – scores of researchers can collaborate on the same project using common storage services and store vast amounts of data in Amazons S3 (storage service) buckets. You can back up to the cloud or retrieve the data back.
- Develop applications on AWS using the powerful computing power – these are then ready to digest an unlimited volume of data. The results can be streamed back to your on-premise or stored on the cloud. This frees up your high-demand storage and computing space
- Increased time – Your ICT team has more time and resources to support project development. They can spin up a virtual private cloud to test applications for future projects, then spin them down once you know the infrastructure topology you require.
Credits: HackNy @ flickr.com/photos/hackny/ (C)
An idea or piece of research is measured
by its contribution to the field and its marketability
AWS allows you to affordably offer entrepreneurs and existing students easy access to powerful, fully fledged resources. Given them the best environment for their ideas to develop.
AWS will enable you to provide:
- Fully managed workspaces,
- Relevant course resources and give feedback in real time.
But, more importantly, you can provide resources that are natively BYOD “bring your own device” ready and securely accessible from anywhere. View what can be achieved by Amazon Workspaces
A few examples of how AWS is benefiting educational institutions:
“40 student entrepreneurs took on a web startup from the drawing board to a launched prototype in 60 intense hours. With Amazon’s EC2 and S3 technology on our side, we can go live in minutes without worrying about configuration, reliability, and most importantly, scalability.” Thomas Finsterbusch, PhD candidate, University of Texas 
“We have created proofs-of-concept in hours to days to test and evaluate new products across the enterprise. We have been able to leverage the agility of AWS to work faster and, in some cases, “fail fast” so we can get on to the next thing, which works.” Jonathon Crane, Cloud-centric Solution architect 
AWS has numerous success stories with startups. Spotify, Pinterest, Yelp all started out using and continue to use AWS for their scaling and computing needs.
Using AWS to enhance your existing setup gives you a competitive edge in research, enterprise and education. Utility computing along with your core resources in-house is a economical arrangement that allows you to simply facilitate your ambitious ideas without breaking the bank.
Accessing AWS through the educator’s network- JISC gives you a direct relationship with Arcus Global: specialists in AWS and creators of the AWS-JISC Portal. Arcus are AWS partners and maintain the AWS-JISC portal. If you interested in finding out more about the portal and how to sign up contact Arcus Global
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Register your interest for the next article covering:
- At outline of the JISC portal
- The cost of AWS
- How hybrid cloud is reforming ICT infrastructure
- Disaster recovery, Security and Privacy with AWS
- Is there a limitation to AWS?
Contact the Author:
Amish Nathan Gir
Arcus Globla Ltd
Tel: 01223 331 577