We're in the final stages of preparing for our 2011 symposium, Virtualisation and the Cloud: Realising the benefits of shared infrastructure, which takes place in London tomorrow so things are a bit hectic as you might expect. If you are not registered, there's a live video stream, as per usual, once again provided by Switch New Media. (Note: worldwide timings for the video stream are available).
In preparing some notes for my introduction to the day, I've been thinking about what makes this year's symposium feel rather different to those in previous year's, and it does feel different (at least to me). I think there are two factors. Firstly, the changing environment within which HE in the UK finds itself having to operate (see Christine Sexton's notes from today's HE Futures Forum for a lengthier explanation of that but none of this will come as a surprise to anyone who hasn't been under a rock for the last year or so) and secondly that we (Eduserv) now find ourselves increasingly drawn to providing 'cloud' solutions as part of our service portfolio. This includes the HE Cloud pilot that we'll be providing as part of the JISC's UMF Programme (and about which you'll hear more tomorrow) but is certainly not limited to the education space. Developing cloud offerings is fairly high-risk stuff for us, not least in the sense that it will change the way we deliver and run our own infrastructure, but also because the business models that might sustain this kind of activity are unclear, at best, in the education space currently.
All of which makes this year's symposium much more relevent to future 'core' business for us than has been the case previously.
We are also wanting to use the symposium as a way of engaging with the community across the range of services we provide. So, although the main focus of the day is cloud and shared services, we've put together a mini-expo in the lunch room where there will be representatives from all parts of Eduserv (Web Hosting and Development, the Data Centre, Licence Negotiation and OpenAthens). If you have any questions for us, or are interested in any of the services we offer, there'll be plenty of people on hand to help you out.
Finally, in light of the potential interest in UMF, we've also asked JANET (UK) and the DCC, both of whom are contributing significantly to the UMF Programme (and both of whom will be giving lightning talks immediately after lunch), to take part in the mini-expo as well.
I'm really looking forward to the event tomorrow. I think we have a great set of talks, including two keynotes (Simon Wardley and Armando Fox) that bring in perspectives from outside UK education. I look forward to seeing you there in person, or at least at the far end of the live-stream.