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Queen's University
 

Externally Hosted Solutions

 

University communities are already utilizing externally hosted services (for example, Facebook, Flickr, Desire2Learn and Gmail) — they are not new on campuses. What is new is that Queen's is now moving toward externally hosted solutions for centrally delivered enterprise services. As such, steps are being taken to assess, evaluate and manage delivery and risk carefully as we move toward this exciting new platform for service delivery. 

 

What does "externally hosted" mean?

 

Services hosted on campus require that they be provisioned entirely by local IT resources for everything from hardware, infrastructure and security requirements to  facilities management, cooling and maintenance personnel. By contrast, moving to an external host involves entering into a contract with an outside provider in order to purchase server space and service delivery as a commodity.

 

Externally hosted solutions are often referred to as "in the cloud", "above campus", or hosted with a "shared service model". The phrase "externally hosted" specifically indicates that the service data is located on third party (i.e. non-Queen's) servers.

 

What are the benefits?

 

Bo Wandschneider, Chief Information Officer and Associate Vice-Principal (Information Technology Services) sees a trend toward externally hosted solutions because of the added service capability and enhanced end-user experience. In April 2012, he wrote in his blog about the emergence of cloud computing in higher education: "These services are provided on demand, and are usually incredibly inexpensive per user, or even free."

 

Specifically, the following benefits are common with the adoption of externally hosted solutions:

 

  • enhanced storage capacity and capability;
  • access to feature-rich and user-friendly web interfaces;
  • seamless mobile access;
  • high percentage of service up time;
  • less data loss and enhanced data security (in comparison, for example, to information stored on a mobile drive that is misplaced or a laptop that is damaged);
  • a decrease in campus carbon emissions; and
  • freeing up of local IT resources to concentrate efforts in other areas.

Why are universities adopting them?

 

Externally hosted solutions are emerging as the next generation of service provisioning in higher education — they are increasingly common in post-secondary institutions in Canada and around the world. The economic, environmental and end-user benefits of externally hosted solutions are resulting in rapid rates of adoption, for example, as the student email solution of choice in Canadian universities. Through investigation, universities are exploring advantages, disadvantages and risks.

 

What are the concerns and how are they being addressed?

 

Entering into a relationship with a third party for service provision often raises concerns due to the loss of control over the service delivery, specifically around factors such as:

 

  • privacy and security;
  • data ownership and retention;
  • risk assessment;
  • security management;
  • solution performance and service up time;
  • vendor stability; and
  • support and maintenance.

    ITServices has undergone an extensive due diligence process to carefully evaluate each of these areas in preparation for launching its first externally hosted enterprise service in early 2013 - Microsoft Office 365 for students.

     

    With each new service added, ITServices will be able to thoroughly assess risk through third party analysis and review of best practices based on the due diligence framework for externally hosted solutions developed for the implementation of Office 365.

     

     


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