Welcome to the Cloud: All you need to know about what cloud computing can do for students

Cloud computing means library treks and queuing are problems of the past for students

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The Independent Online

Long queues, library treks and out of date software are all set to become a thing of the past, thanks to new cloud computing platforms. Although originating as far back as the 1950s, technological advancements are making it easier than ever to access vital applications and work, and with Application Jukebox announcing its successes with university students last week, it seems as though there has never been a better time to find out more about life on the cloud...

What is cloud computing?

Designed to allow students to access applications otherwise only available on specific university lab or library computers, cloud computing platforms, such as Application Jukebox, remove the need to wait for specific machines by making applications downloadable on to personal devices.

What are the technicalities?

Applications are packaged and loaded onto the platform’s server ready to be delivered to the end user. Through the service, students are able to connect to the server and handle application delivery, caching and license compliance. 

Who is currently using the cloud?

Application Jukebox is currently being used by over 250,000 students at over 40 universities across the UK, with plans to progress overseas to the US.

What benefits does cloud computing have for students over desktop devices?

Cloud computing platforms such as Application Jukebox aim to eradicate the frustration of waiting for physical computers with the need of specific applications. Despite concerns about responsiveness, the application also has been proven to run as quickly as if installed on the computer itself as the heavy processing is handled by the service provider rather than relying on the memory of the computer.

Beyond this, the use of clouds as opposed to installed programmes is particularly useful for both blind and deaf students, who will now be able to download required assistive learning apps on to their own personal computers, including programmes such as screen reading and magnifying software.

Application Jukebox also has the advantage of installing and updating the programmes on the cloud in real time, whenever they are opened -meaning that all applications are always completely up to date.

What programmes are available on the cloud?

The new platform is currently host to all existing Windows applications, ranging from Autodesk to Wireshark, with Application Jukebox boasting 10,000 cloudpaged apps.

So what’s the catch?

When it comes to the cloud, freedom comes at a price. For a start you need to be connected to the internet – although there are offline modes available, to initially download the platform you need to be connected to the network, or have the knowledge to access the network remotely.

 On top of this, the amount of time a user has access to an offline application can also be tightly controlled. Administrators can enforce a user to check-in online periodically and even schedule complete removal from the Jukebox player.

Security is also an issue where cloud computing is concerned. Lack of information on the location of data, encryption methods and the trustworthiness of the cloud service provider means that users need to take extra consideration when putting sensitive information on to the third party platform. 

Does the platform only work on computers?

Cloud applications can be accessed from any system that is connected to the internet, including laptops, tablets and phones.

Things to remember when cloud computing:

  • Know the terms and conditions of the service that you are using.
  • Be aware of both the privacy and security settings of the cloud.
  • Always use strong passwords and remember to change them regularly.
  • Make sure to back up all important information in more than one place.
  • A strong internet connection of at least 5Mbps is required for cloud computing – platforms will only be as effective as your bandwith allows them to be.

Many cloud service providers offer free trials – make the most of them! This way you’ll get to know if the platform is right for you without wasting any money.