By user9147039 on Oct 07, 2014
I'm just coming back from two weeks in Orlando, where both Education 2014 and the Gartner Symposium were held. Incidentally the week of Educause was also the week of Oracle OpenWorld. So within a two-week timeframe there were a bunch of announcements that are relevant to education & research.
The first of these (that got relatively little attention) was Oracle's announcement of joining Internet2, and our intention to develop, in partnership with I2's members, cloud service offerings from Oracle that will be made available via Net+. I've followed what Net+ has been doing for the past several years with some interest, and while I wish we could have joined the organization sooner I do believe that the timing is optimal, primarily because of the aforementioned announcements coming from OpenWorld. I would certainly forgive you if this escaped your notice, given the dozens of press releases during the conference, but many of them pertained to our PaaS (Platform as a Service).
A lot has been written in the past several years regarding Oracle and Cloud, most of it misguided in my view. The press love a good story and for some reason (perhaps because of some anti-cloud comments from our former CEO, now executive chairman) we have been painted into a corner as being "late to cloud" or "not committed to cloud." I even read an article this week that actually said Oracle's cloud was "fake."
The reality is quite a bit different and now I will circle back to I2 and Net+. While we have huge focus on developing/acquiring/delivering applications in the cloud (HCM, Financials, CRM, our recently mentioned Student Information System initiative, etc.), it's this development of a robust, comprehensive PaaS cloud that is critically important in my view. This is where I believe we'll see tremendous value from our relationship with Internet2. In our PaaS cloud, we are delivering mobile services, identity and security services, and (most important) data and process integration aaS.
Terri-Lynn Thayer, lead analyst for Gartner in higher ed, in her presentation entitled "Prepare Your Campus to Compete in a Digital Education Ecosystem" at the Industry Day during Gartner's Symposium, talked about the importance of iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) as institutions shrink their core ERP systems down to a system of record and source a variety of services from public and private clouds. I think this gets missed a lot in all the hype around cloud's promise of providing higher ed more agility; if the data and process integration foundation isn't solid, we will end up with a bigger mess than we have today with our heavily customized on-premiss applications.
So to that end we will be putting a lot of emphasis on our PaaS in our I2 relationship. More to come on that, particularly in the December timeframe when we meet with our global education & research industry strategy council.
The other half of the Educause announcement we made last week pertained to our design partner for our Cloud Student initiative. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stanford, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and the University of Texas (system office) will be our four primary contributors from a core design partner standpoint. We are close to adding a fifth partner in Europe which we should be in a a position to disclose after next week's EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Higher Ed User Group (HEUG) meeting in Utrecht, NL as well as our EMEA education & research industry strategy council. We believe this gives us a broad spectrum of the higher ed panoply from which to draw a great deal of insight and council as we build the next generation student system in the cloud with mobile and social attributes at the core of the development initiative.
The last point I wanted to make in this post was around the recent decision by the Kuali Foundation to create a new for-profit entity. Much as been written about this change, with a wide range of opinions on what is really under the surface and what questions this now raises. As I've said many times before, much (not all, but much) of what Kuali has been positioned to deliver already exists as off-the-shelf (COTS) products, with multiple sources (i.e. robust competition) and a broad user community and ecosystem that develops and innovates around these products and platforms. To me, the creation of the for-profit entity is demonstrable proof that open-source in the area of complex administrative and business apps in higher education is a bad idea. It's totally against the grain of what needs to be "core" - teaching, learning, and research. The move towards cloud applications and platforms in higher education (something we're aggressively pursuing) will in my view be the nail in the coffin.
Don't get me wrong; there are definitely areas where Kuali (and other open source initiatives) fill gaps that the private sector will likely never pursue - Coeus and the open library environment are excellent examples. Parts of Unizen may be another. But in the broader areas of human resources management, financials, student information systems, and mobility where ample (and growing) competition exists to drive innovation up and costs down, there is no justification for investing shrinking resources in higher education on software development and support.