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Cloud to help Arab Open University provide more support to students and staff, CIO says #cloudmena

Cloud to help Arab Open University provide more support to students and staff, CIO says | Business Cloud News

Written by Business Cloud News

Abid-Butt-jpegArab Open University (AOU), a non-profit, private regional university spanning seven countries is looking to take more of its applications to the cloud in a bid to improve how the organisation supports staff and students in the region, according to the university’s chief information officer Abid Butt.

The AOU, which is affiliated with the Open University in the UK, was set up in 2003 with funding from the Arab Gulf Fund to provide education to working professional in the Gulf region. It’s headquartered in Kuwait with campuses in Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman and Saudi Arabia, but the organisation hopes to eventually cover 22 countries in the region, from Oman to Morocco.

Similarly to the UK Open University, the AOU is not a traditional brick and mortar school and relies heavily on digital platforms to reach a wide audience, which is one of the reasons the AOU is slowly moving its applications and platforms – both student and faculty facing – into the cloud.

“Students should be able to access knowledge and education through any media, anywhere, but when the university started it wasn’t carrying this thinking through to the technology being used,” Butt says. “The eight campuses in the Gulf were doing a lot of redundant work because they weren’t viewing the environment holistically.”

The organisation relies on three core application groups: financial systems (i.e. payroll), human resources systems, and student lifecycle management –including campus management applications and a learning management application, which resembles a Coursera-type model.

But instead of delivering the applications from multiple datacentres in the region, the AOU has for the past year started implementing its roadmap to deliver many of them from the cloud, partly in a bid to cope with spikes in application traffic during certain periods of the academic year, and partly to reduce costs.

The IT department at the AOU is fairly small, with little budget to fund technical support operations for its datacentres.

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