Calwest University’s campus is in the “cloud”. This means that physical facilities are limited to an administrative office run at Northridge, California, USA; and a web management office in Melbourne, Australia.
All officers are linked via the internet to the Amazon web-services (in the cloud), with scalable resources and multiple points of presence around the world. The physical locations of the servers are secure and their locations are not publicized even within Amazon. Using Amazon web-services provides Calwest with in-built data disaster recovery as the data is hosted in multiple continents.
Calwest' Tubeclasses uses the Moodle platform and data base and the Moodle Learning Management System to provide a virtual learning environment for all students. The storage of data regarding courses, students, grades and web content is via a SQL database. Calwest also uses Apache web services to host its website; and a secure platform back-up for off-site storage of data. Student fees payment management, including the use of credit card facilities is managed via Bank of America’s secure payment gateway system.
Cloud computing, or something being in the cloud, is a colloquial expression used to describe a variety of different types of computing concepts that involve a large number of computers connected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet. A ‘cloud campus’ refers to network-based educational platforms and student services which appear to be provided by real server hardware, which in fact are served up by virtual hardware, simulated by software running on one or more real machines. Such virtual servers do not physically exist and can therefore be moved around and scaled up (or down) on the fly without affecting the end user student—arguably, rather like a cloud.
At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services. Calwest’s cloud campus also focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of shared resources. A cloud campus is open 24-hours, 7-days a week as resources are usually not only shared by multiple users but are also dynamically re-allocated per demand. This approach should maximize the use of computing powers thus reducing environmental damage as well since less power, air conditioning, lecture theatres, etc. is required for a variety of educational functions usually done in physical campuses.
The term "moving to cloud" also refers to an organization moving away from a traditional CAPEX model (buy the dedicated hardware and depreciate it over a period of time) to the OPEX model (use a shared cloud infrastructure and pay as you use it). This allows Calwest University to avoid upfront infrastructure costs, and focus on a learning experience for students that differentiate their education programs instead of infrastructure. These cost saving are passed on to students, enabling them to get a ‘World-Class’ education at a fraction of the costs that are charged by traditional universities with physical campuses.
The cloud has also enabled the university to get their educational programs and applications up and running faster, with improved manageability and less maintenance, and enables IT to more rapidly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable student demand that is the reality of online courses.