A pilot study on using public cloud to support server-side practical classes

Andrew K Lui, Kelvin K W Lee, Steven S O Choy, Kwun-tat Chan and Ka-chun Chan
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

This paper describes a study on the use of a public cloud service to support laboratory sessions and project work on a server-side computing course. Such courses usually require a specialized setup of hardware and software. Cloud computing, due to features such as zero capital cost, an on-demand pay-per-use payment model and elastic resource provision, can be a viable and cost-effective alternative to setting up a dedicated computer laboratory. The study has two parts: (i) an observational study on engaging a public cloud service provider to support a server-side computing course; and (ii) a comparative study on the payment model of several public cloud providers. Both the positive and negative experiences of using a public cloud service for classroom teaching are described. The cost of running laboratory activities and project work is also analysed and discussed.