shared groupwork tools
Prepare a brief paper describing what you’ve heard about how people use shared groupwork tools — any information processing activities involving the joint effort of people separated in time and/or space and sharing their common information “in the cloud”. — perhaps it’s based on some earlier experience of your own, perhaps on conversations with others and second-hand reports, perhaps it’s just by reading about them, perhaps just on speculation projected from anything that you have heard. Describe what you’ve heard about utilization — benefits, problems, things to come, etc. Think about what you might be able to do if you did have full access to such tools — either taking advantage of them to do things that you might want to do, or protecting yourself against their use if you don’t like them. Basically, your task here is to review what you know and don’t know about such groupwork tools, and relate them to your own purposes and goals and potential behavior. Feel free to extrapolate from what you do know to what you don’t know — just make it clear when you are doing so. Remember, the aim is to relate the topic to your own experiences of it, present or future. As we noted in the last module, you won’t always be stuck on the fringes of the information world; being ready to re-enter it is always something to think about!
SLP Assignment Expectations
LENGTH: 2-3 pages typed and double-spaced
The following items will be assessed in particular:
• The degree to which you have carried out the assignment completely, or clarified why you could not and investigated alternatives
• Your ability to describe your experiences clearly and draw conclusions from them, not just narrate events
• Your ability to focus on the overall purposes of the assignment, not just its specific steps
• Your use of some in-text references to what you have read; please cite all sources properly
The case for this module calls for you to explore some of the divergent opinions about this new approach to organizational information systems and weigh some of the competing claims. First off, if you don’t know anything about computer networking or what a client/server netwiork is in particular, it’a recommended that you start with this reasonably good short guide to network terminology (if you’re already on top of this stuff, you can probably skip this one):
Sensible Computer Help (2008) Choosing the best computer network. Sensible-Computer-Help.com. Retrieved February 27, 2011, from http://www.sensible-computer-help.com/computer-network.html
With that foundation, you can now begin to learn about “the cloud”. A good general reference to start with is here:
Chee, B. and Franklin, C. (2010) Applications for Clouds. Chapter 4 in Cloud Computing: Technologies and Strategies of the Ubiquitous Data Center. CRC Press. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from http://media.techtarget.com/searchSystemsChannel/downloads/Cloud_Computing_Techn_Strat_of_the_Ubiq_Data_Cent_Chapter_4.pdf
As we noted in the introduction, a term often used more or less interchangeably with “cloud computing” (despite some significant differences of focus) is “software as a service” – described as a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet. The following article discusses some of the difficulties with organizational implementation of this model:
Fornes, D. (2010) The Software as a Service Dilemma. The Software Advice Blog. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/uncategorized/the-software-as-a-service-dilemma-104071/
Finally, this discussion would not be complete without the views of the skeptic; the following article points out some of the all-too-apparent complications that might ensue from a wholesale stampede into the clouds:
Schneier, B. (2009) Cloud Computing. Schneier on Security. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/06/cloud_computing.html
But back to the enthusiasts. SaaSBlogs is a website that, in its own words, is “a community centered around the idea that Software as a Service (SAAS) represents the largest shift in the software industry in decades. We cover ideas, technologies, challenges, and business strategies related to this new and exciting paradigm.” Basically, it’s a lot of blog posts primarily authored by three experts, addressing a very wide range of topics related to SaaS deployment, use, and effects. It’s a very good place to see how people committed to this model think and what they bring to the table. In fact, it’s so good at this that it’s going to be your primary source material for this case assignment.
Scrolling down the SaasBlogs home page points you to the archive of posts on various aspects of this issue. You should spend some time looking through these posts for discussions of things that you find interesting relating to SaaS operation, implementation, or results. Perhaps they will relate directly to issues in your own environment; perhaps they will remain largely academic – but in either case, you should be alert to the language of the discussion and how both technical and social issues are being talked about. There are also other SaaS-related blog sites that you may wish to look at (google a few and see what you find).
In addition, the Background Readings page lists some optional readings that may be useful to you as you consider these issues, or you may find other sources yourself (be sure to reference properly whatever specific sources you draw on).
When you’ve read through the articles and related material and thought about them carefully, please compose a short paper on the topic:
Why “software as a service” is (or is not – pick one) going to dominate the next several years in information management
Be sure to include at least some reference to the SaaSBlogs material somewhere in your paper.
Case assignment expectations:
Your paper should be short (5-7 pages, not including cover sheet and references) and to the point. It is to be structured as a point/counterpoint argument, in the following manner. You are expected to:
• Begin this paper by stating your position on this question clearly and concisely — take one or the other position (either for or against formality), but not both!
• Citing appropriate sources, present the reasons why you take this position. Be sure to make the most effective case you can.
• Then present the best evidence you can, again citing appropriate sources, against your position — that is, establish what counterarguments can be made in response to your original position.
• Finally, review your original position in light of the counterarguments, showing how they are inadequate to rebut your original statement.
By the end of your paper, you should be able to unequivocally re-affirm your original position.
The following features of your paper will be assessed in particular:
• Your ability to see what the module is all about and to structure your paper accordingly. In this case, there isn’t a single right or wrong, yes-or-no answer – either perspective can be justified. Your task is to construct a logical, well-reasoned, and persuasive argument for your conclusions. Be sure that you take a defined position on the question, and construct your paper to support that position with suitable arguments and evidence.
• Your focus on the question as presented, and your ability to use the language of the module convincingly. Here, this means your ability to describe “the cloud” and SaaS effectively, to explain the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches in contrast to more traditional computing and IT arrangements, and to place them in the contexct of developing information systems and social trends.
• Your ability to consolidate ideas from reading materials and your understanding of the materials. Select your illustrative cases to prove your point; don’t just dump a bunch of illustrations onto the page just to fill space. Use information from as many sources as you can, as long as it’s of good quality. At the least, you are expected to show evidence of having read and understood the required readings.
• Your informed commentary and analysis — simply repeating what your sources say does not constitute an adequate paper.
• Some in-text references to your readings, with citations in proper academic format. For assistance with proper paper formats, reference lists, and citation procedures, please consult the TUI Course Guidelines and/or the Purdue University manual listed in the Background Material.
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