Cloud Computing has become a buzzword for quite some time. It refers to an elegant and efficient way of sharing IT resources (like network, servers, storage, applications etc.) based on advanced virtualization technologies, enabling convenient and ubiquitous access to IT resources as well as an agile on-demand resources provisioning with minimal management effort.
Here at HKUST, on top of using some public cloud services (like Microsoft Office 365), ITSC has implemented an on-premise private cloud environment like many other large organizations to attain IT sustainability as well as assuring adequate level of server and network security. Highlighted below are some key cloud services ITSC is currently providing:
- Server Virtualization - under this "Virtualization as a Service (VaaS)", departmental servers can now run as virtual servers (so-called virtual machines or VMs) hosted on secure enterprise grade servers at ITSC data center instead of setting up and managing their own physical servers, thus achieving manpower (like servers procurement and data backup) and resources savings through economies of scale, and with increased flexibility, reliability and agility.
- Around 1,400 VMs are running in our private cloud, supporting both central (72%) and departmental servers (28%).
- Around 40 departments/offices are now running some VMs in our private cloud in various extents, with DBM, LIB, CEI and MAE being our larger tenants at this stage.
- Virtual Data Center - departments/offices with IT support staff may want to have full autonomy to manage and provision their virtual servers as needed as if they are administering a virtual data center. This can be achieved through such an "Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)" paradigm whereby a pool of computing and storage resources will be assigned for their own allocation as deemed appropriate.
- Right now LIB, MAE, TTC, and PHYS departments are already making use of this Virtual Data Center service to streamline their daily operation.
- Desktop Virtualization - A virtual desktop or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) means that a user's desktop environment is running remotely on a server rather than on a local PC. Users can then access their personal desktop remotely over the Internet from any simple client device. This approach brings along the key benefits of (1) cost savings, (2) simplified management, (3) enhanced security, and (4) increased productivity. At present we are leveraging VDI in the following areas:
- Virtual Barn - In this BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) era, this service enables students to quickly access computer barn software and printers anytime from anywhere using one's mobile device. ITSC has also installed around 40 Virtual Barn Workstations (or so-called Zero Clients) at popular campus locations to facilitate students accessing the virtual barn environment easily.
- Around 40 Library OPAC workstations are using VDI technology to access online Library catalog and resources.
- Virtual Desktop Infrastructure for Teaching (VDIT) - VDIT enables faculty and TAs to set up personal virtual desktop and install your own software along with any customization for your desktop. You can then access your personalized desktop at any time and from anywhere, including campus teaching venues.