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CNM First in State to Offer Cloud Computing Course Series

September, 2013 -- CNM has become the first public college or university in New Mexico to have a VMware IT Academy offering classes in “cloud computing,” a fast-growing field that gives companies all the technology they need without the hefty infrastructure costs.
CNM First in State to Offer Cloud Computing Course Series

Dr. David Beach developed CNM's cloud computing curriculum.

 

The courses also prepare students to pass a national certification, which can draw lucrative salaries.

“Cloud is a metaphor for not knowing exactly where data exists. In cloud computing data is on a storage area network somewhere – just not in your computer’s hard drive or other local storage device,” said Dr. David Beach, the CNM faculty member who developed the curriculum for the four-term Cloud Technology Concentration in Computer Information Systems (CIS).

He created the program as a result of feedback from the School of Business & Information Technology’s CIS Network Administration/System Administration Advisory Committee. The committee requested programs be developed that would educate potential employees in new emerging technologies, specifically cloud computing and cyber security. The first cyber security course will be offered in fall 2014.

CNM partnered with VMware, Inc., the industry leader in the field of virtualization, and built the program around the VMware IT Academy with the goal of equipping students with technical skills so that they could obtain VMware Certified Professional (VCP) status. VMware certification will make the students competitive for high-paying jobs in the industry anywhere in the country.

In designing the Cloud Technology Concentration, Beach revamped a program that previously was devoted to Microsoft system administration. Under the Cloud Technology Concentration students will continue to be instructed in Microsoft courses but will also learn about cloud computing, technically known as virtualization.

Cloud computing allows a person sitting at a computer to retrieve data via an off-site server using Internet access storage servers located at multiple locations around the country or world. A load balancer selects which server will be tapped based on availability and location. The server then grabs the data desired by the individual from a storage area network (SAN). The same data is typically stored on multiple SANs for redundancy, but the server selects the closest one to retrieve the information. Once the data is selected, it is routed instantly back to the individual making the request, functioning just like it was stored locally.

The advantage of this system is that people can access their applications and data from anywhere at any time, using any computer linked to the Internet or the company Intranet. Data isn’t confined to a specific hard drive on one user's computer or even a corporation's internal network. Also, cloud computing brings hardware costs down and reduces the need for advanced hardware. It is unnecessary to buy the fastest desktop computer with the most storage space because the cloud system will deliver the user’s data, applications or even their operating systems via the network.

Beach said the cloud concept is not new – it’s been used for web-based email and other purposes for nearly two decades -- but today it’s been getting new life from Amazon.com, Rackspace, Google and others offering storage and virtual services that information technology (IT) can access on demand. It provides what IT always needs: a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel or licensing new software.

The cloud courses are being taught as distance learning online classes. The first course, which focuses on virtual storage, consists of 30 hours of posted video lectures by Beach, reading assignments, 45 lab hours, quizzes and tests. Beach has established office hours for students to call if they have questions. Because the courses are distance learning, students fit the videos, lab work and assignments into their work and life schedules without ever having to come on campus. In the second class students will learn about cloud infrastructure, while the third class will center on software virtualization.

CNM students can be trained for highly-paid virtualization jobs at minimal cost. Because the cloud courses qualify as career technical education courses, the students only pay $14 per credit hour to take the classes. Private schools around the country charge as much as $4,500 for the same course series, Beach said. A recent survey by Global Knowledge found that expected salaries for individuals with a VCP certification are on the average $91,271.

The series of classes will eventually be taught and offered online to students attending other colleges and universities in New Mexico as part of a collaboration called Sun-IT Pathway. The other schools include Santa Fe Community College, University of New Mexico-Taos, University of New Mexico-Valencia and Eastern New Mexico-Ruidoso.

 

“This first cloud class drew tremendous interest from all kinds of students – ex-military, 18-year-olds right out of high school and people who have been working in the computer field for years,” Beach said. “The 30-student class filled up in a few days. We are pleased to give the students the opportunity to learn a skill in this expanding field.”