Will colleges contribute to coming cloud computing explosion?

Thirty-four percent of colleges and universities are implementing or maintaining cloud computing, according to a 2011 survey from CDW-G that tracked cloud adoption nationwide.

The survey questioned respondents from eight business and government sectors—and only large businesses adopted cloud computing more than higher education.

Colleges have gravitated toward cloud services—helping rid campuses of rooms filled with server racks that require costly and constant cooling—even as disturbing reports have surfaced this year.

Nearly half of 1,200 IT decision makers polled by Trend Micro in June said they had encountered a cloud-based security incident within the past year.

The Trend Micro research didn’t focus on higher education, but its results show that cloud-computing concerns are pervasive: half of respondents said security was their organization’s main barrier to cloud adoption.

Seven in 10 cloud users who responded to the CDW-G survey said they started their migration to the cloud with a single application, such as eMail in higher education—a service that has been farmed out by many of the most prominent campuses, such as Yale and Brown University.

A future of exponential data increases has long been discussed in higher education circles. At an education technology conference in 2009, renowned futurist George Gilder predicted a new kind of network that could boost universities’ computing power.

Gilder, a best-selling author and long-time advocate of technology and free-market capitalism, discussed “storm computing” with campus technologists, calling the ultra-high-speed networks as a “bigger development than is often understood.”

The potential for such a massive increase in web data demand and network speed, Gilder said, might force colleges and businesses alike to adopt cloud options.

“When networks became faster than computers,” he said, the only logical solution was to switch to offsite cloud-computing data centers.

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