Here we go again with my edu-speak interpretation of the next flock of predictions from Techmarketview. Flock? What is the collective noun for predictions? I checked here but it’s not yet listed although I did like “an annoyance of mobile phones.” Perhaps I could propose “an inaccuracy of predictions.” Anyway, I digress. This time Phil Codling picks out the headlines for the UK infrastructure services market. My comments in blue…1. Cloud-based infrastructure services will grow at double digit rates – But where cloud is replacing an existing service, it’s a more-for-less substitution that is shrinking the overall market. 2012 is another year of clients putting costs first.
Cloud is a paradigm shift in technology that represents a partial displacement of existing spend. The effect of cloud is to improve utilisation and efficiency while driving down management overheads. Sometimes though, on-premise is the right answer. Optimising the blend of off and on-premise infrastructure will be the evolutionary trend of 2012 and beyond. A consequence of moving off-premise is an increasing requirement for high quality bandwidth. Taken in the round, we may be seeing a redistribution of budget spend rather than an absolute decrease in 2012 but as scale bites, the overall cost-base should be driven down leading to lower prices. What is clear is that the economic climate is helping to drive the speed of transition to cloud services in business and this trend is beginning to emerge in the education sector too. Technology delivery in education, particularly in K12 is often highly inefficient with inadequate local technical support. Cloud infrastructure and services offer schools a real chance to shift their focus away from managing technology to managing learning while at the same time reducing IT budget, if not immediately, then certainly over time. Bring it on!
2. Public cloud won’t make it to the mainstream – Private cloud remains the preferred option in 2012. Small businesses and niche/non-critical applications provide the exceptions to this rule.
A public cloud is one in which a service provider makes resources such as storage and applications, available to the general public over the Internet. The term ‘public cloud’ arose to differentiate between this standard model and the private cloud, which is a proprietary network or data centre that uses cloud computing technologies, such as virtualisation. A private cloud is managed by the organisation it serves. A blended model, the hybrid cloud, is a combination of cloud services managed by both internal and external providers. In fact it is this latter category that will, I think, emerge as relevant to education in 2012 and beyond. Scale is all important here and clearly it is SMEs and education-equivalent organisations that benefit from public clouds because private isn’t really an option. However, larger educational aggregations such as the Regional Broadband Consortia (for example SWGfL) do provide the scale for private clouds. Thus education organisations will probably find themselves in a blended environment.
3. Bring Your Own Technology becomes a market opportunity – Forward-thinking players will seize the chance to help CIOs turn BYOT [Bring Your Own Technology] into a positive for their organisation. Meanwhile the technology in question will include a major new entrant, as Amazon “Fires up” competition in the tablet space.
I’ve already blogged on BYOT and I make no secret of the fact that I believe education is ripe for this trend. The benefits of personally owned tech, for the organisation and the individual, are numerous and profound. Addressing the issue of equal access in education is the challenge. The mention of the Amazon Fire tablet does however give me an opportunity to evangelise about a parallel trend that I think is just around the corner: eTextbooks. Having a 14 year old daughter as I do, I know how many textbooks she lugs around the place. Not only that, but her teenage brain is adept at forgetting most things, including textbooks, at crucial moments, such as the day before an exam. One of the huge benefits of personally owned technology would be anywhere, anytime access to eTextbooks. I find it astounding that it has not taken off. Not only would eTextbooks offer a better quality of experience including multimedia assets and links to extended or remedial resources, but they would be available whenever and wherever a learner required them. It would be possible for teachers and learners to annotate them and otherwise add value. As electronic documents they could also be subject to the range of social tools, such as reviews and rating. Imagine as well being able to measure how a young person used their textbook. That data would be extremely valuable in identifying patterns and trends for understanding learning and timely interventions. The list goes on and on. Yet it hasn’t happened. Perhaps 2012 is the year…
There were a couple of other predictions too but they were very tech-infrastructure-sector-specific and I couldn’t see how I could add any edu-value. So there you have it for this instalment.