Weeklong cloud computing workshop conducted at KU

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change the way of working, learning and socializing. Cloud Computing has played a crucial role in adapting to this new way of life. It has facilitated remote education, remote medical consultation, and online commerce through various services and tools provided by Cloud Computing.

Keeping in view the need of the hour, a week long online Faculty Development Program on Cloud Computing was organized at University of Kashmir, Srinagar. It was conducted and coordinated by Dr Rana Hashmy, Senior Scientist, Department of Computer Science, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, from 20-25 July 2020. Some of the eminent personalities in the area of Cloud Computing were invited as resource persons for the program. The program was attended by faculty members of different colleges, Institutes and organizations from Dubai, Kerala, Punjab, Himachal, and Kashmir Valley.

The course on Cloud Computing is being offered at post graduate level, but some key elements have, so far, been missing. The students were not being given sufficient practical exposure. The motivation behind the Faculty Development Program on Cloud Computing was to provide a proper structure to the course, hence making it more useful and complete by incorporating inputs from the experts having vast and first-hand knowledge of this field.

The objective of the program was to introduce the participants to key aspects of Cloud Computing and emerging technologies, educate them about major challenges of Cloud Computing, and provide exposure to them on latest research trends in Cloud Computing, Cyber security, and IoT.

Dr. D.P. Vidyarthi, Professor, School of Computer and Systems Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi gave the program a very good start by delivering a lecture on Introduction to Cloud Computing that covered all the basic concepts and architecture of cloud computing highlighting the advantages of cloud computing and the challenges of using cloud computing. He also talked about the research trends in this area, explaining the concept of cloud auction and pricing, and how Resource Provisioning in Cloud Computing using Auction Mechanism could be implemented.

Prof. Shri Kant Ojha, Professor, Research & Technology Development Center (RTDC), Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering, Sharda University, Greater Noida, Former Coordinator & Director, DRDO, highlighted in-depth the Cloud security issues and challenges and about Cyber security, and proposed solutions with case studies. During his lecture he stated that “The concept of the computer came with the invention of the first abacus, hence it can be said that “cybercrime” per se has been around ever since people used calculating machines for wrong purposes.” He discussed an interesting case of cybercrime. In 1820, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, a textile manufacturer in France, produced the loom. This device allowed the repetition of a series of steps in the weaving of special fabrics. This resulted in a fear amongst Jacquard’s employees that their traditional employment and livelihood were being threatened. They committed acts of sabotage to discourage Jacquard from further use of the new technology. This is the first recorded cybercrime!

Prof. Ojha also discussed that if the industries and academia migrate to cloud computing, what are the security and privacy challenges, and what are the other aspects that need to be handled and being taken care of. He discussed about the research projects on which his students are working, and encouraged the students from Kashmir Valley to join the research projects with him if desired by them.

In continuation with that, Prof Sanjeev Sofat, Professor & Head, Dept of Computer Sc & Engineering, PEC University of technology, Chandigarh, discussed about the cloud computing threats, vulnerabilities, and possible risks. He discussed in detail the existing Cloud threat models, and threat mitigation techniques, highlighting the possible solutions proposed through that.

Some very enlightening and informative practical demonstration of cloud computing using cloud simulation software, Cloud Sim and iFog Sim Simulator were demonstrated by Dr. Rahul Johari, Assistant Professor, from School of Communication & Information Technology, Gurogobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. He also gave the demonstration of Meghraj Cloud,  developed by National Informatics Centre, Govt. of India. The sessions were made interactive by hands-on practice that generated lots of interest amongst participants. He also discussed about the latest development in this area regarding Mist Computing, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, Edge Computing, Elastic Computing, Fog Computing, Fluid Computing, (MICEF).

Dr. Manzoor Chachoo, Senior Scientist, Dept of Computer Science, University of Kashmir, discussed the relevance of AI and Machine learning in improvising the performance of Cloud Computing, and how these techniques can be used to create Intelligent Cloud. He stated that the current usage of the cloud involves computing, storage, and networking. But with the feature of artificial intelligence infused in the cloud, the capabilities of the cloud will increase vastly. The intelligent cloud becomes capable of learning from the vast amount of data stored in the cloud, to build up predictions and analyze situations. This will serve as an intelligent platform to perform tasks much accurately and efficiently.

Dr Majid Zaman, Senior Scientist, Directorate of IT&SS, University of Kashmir, delivered extremely delightful sessions on Datamining based on Cloud computing. He could engage the participants in hands-on practice through the live demonstration of the programs. The session induced interest in not only the faculty from Computer Sc & IT background, but also in faculty from other fields. He demonstrated the experiments using Google Cloud Platform. Dr. Majid Zaman also educated the participants on the fact that there are many cloud application software available costing as less as $0.01, and that one does not need to spend exuberant amount on it.

Dr Muheet Ahmed Butt, Senior Scientist, Dept of Computer sc, University of Kashmir, discussed about the Internet of Things and Cloud Computing, and he also delivered a lecture on the concepts of Data Sciences in Cloud Computing. He explained the concept of Big Data with real life examples, and some Data Sciences tools. He also talked about e-homes and self-driven cars, that fascinated the listeners.

Dr Maroof Qadri, Director, Directorate of IT & SS, highlighted the use of cloud computing in education, and how in future it is going to change the scenario of education.

All the intended objectives of this program have been realized, and it received an overwhelming response from the participants. A senior faculty member, from University of Kashmir, who tested Covid positive, also attended all the sessions, though in quarantine, and was an active participant throughout the program with his interesting and meaningful questions and discussions. By the Grace of Almighty, he has recovered now and has returned home. The participants revealed that they had been looking for such a program on cloud computing since long, and that the program has been a totally enriching experience.

The program was also highly appreciated by the Vice Chancellor, University of Kashmir, Prof. Talat Ahmed who presided over the inaugural and valedictory functions of the programme.  He said, that the course has been conducted at an appropriate time when due to ongoing lockdown, educational institutions are not in a position to function in their regular mode. This is the need of the hour and need of the future as well.

It is to be mentioned here that the author purchased Zoom Pro, personal account, and hosted the program through that from home. The reason for choosing Zoom for conducting the program was due to its compatibility with 2G networks. Other software, like, Cisco Webex and Google Meet are compatible with broadband and WiFi network connections, but pose problems to end-users having 2G network connection. The sessions were conducted seamlessly except for the few minor technical glitches.