Corrections made on 3-29.
Learning systems are adopting the cloud in increasing numbers. In the LMS arena, Canvas LMS runs an entirely cloud-based operations, while Blackboard continues to offer three deployment options – self-hosted, managed-hosted, and SaaS. With Moodle, organizations already take advantage of the cloud, mostly through the support of Moodle Partners. The most prominent ones offer their own cloud-based solutions, often from their own cloud.
The promise of cloud is clear: It will deliver the same LMS solution, with none of the server upkeep, and for a lower fee. But in exchange, customers are entrusting all of their data to a third party. As solutions mature and more organizations jump in, the fragmented landscape becomes more visible. Vendors don’t only offer their own technologies and protocols. Today they lock in customers, but also skills. All the major cloud providers offer paid training and certification programs that give engineers architecture-specific skills. Even though these tend to be well remunerated, they do not translate among clouds.
All of these facts conflict with ideas of openness. A recent debate about the premise of “Cloud Agnosticism,” or the ability to migrate from a proprietary cloud vendor to another as customers deem fit, might help put vendors in check (depending on the outcomes of the debate of course). As the community is still in the early stages of the debate, each of the following sides may need some time and help to develop their arguments:
- Cloud Agnosticism is not worth discussing: This one seems to be the most popular position, even among developers working open systems. Virtual environments, among which OpenStack is generally well favored, still require specialized skills depending on when the stack is mounted.
- Customers must begin to demand Cloud Agnosticism: Only then would vendors be compelled to come up with a unified set of standards and languages.
- Cloud Agnosticism will come, no need to do anything: Eventually the fierce competition in the cloud industry will naturally lead to a widespread embrace of openness.
Corrections made on 3-29: An earlier version of this story claimed “Blackboard plans to drop support for local server-hosted setups in the near future.” This is not the case.