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Cloud Computing Made Simple and Affordable: Using the Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) to Provide an Effective, Powerful, and Economical Rich Services Environment
High costs, support and security issues, software licensing, space requirements, and demands for enhanced local and remote 24 x 7 user access constantly challenge computing in education. The Virtual Computing Lab (VCL), a new, adaptable, and open source approach to computing, provides a cloud-like rich services computing environment to serve advanced research and student computing simultaneously and affordably, within a scalable and accessible system architecture. The VCL maintains the diversity and flexibility essential to an academic environment while providing computational resources with an unprecedented lack of restrictions and significant reduction in costs. The VCL is an Internet-based service that allows users to augment their own computers of varying types and capabilities—without their having to acquire new or uniform computers, install and run advanced software, provide their own software support, and so forth. Following its initial development, the VCL has been in successful production at North Carolina State University for four years. NC State's commitment is to extend the VCL's IT capacities and cost benefits across the public education spectrum: Research I universities, undergraduate institutions, community colleges, and K–12 schools. Presenters from three institutions representing three stages of VCL implementation will offer compelling arguments for the VCL. They will discuss the VCL's technical architecture and implementation, its pedagogical possibilities and their class experiences with it, and the governance challenges presented by the provision of virtual computing services. This full-day seminar will include hands-on demonstrations and use of the web-based VCL. Breakout sessions tailored to attendee interests will offer in-depth coverage on topics such as technology, governance and economies, and pedagogy.