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ADOPTION OF CLOUD COMPUTING TECHNOLOGY FOR LIBRARY SERVICES IN THE NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA( NOUN) LIBRARY, AWKA STUDY CENTER ANAMBRA STATE.
The study investigated the adoption of cloud computing technology for library services in NOUN Library. Issues related to the existing computer network available in NOUN library such as LAN, WAN, the rationale for the adoption of cloud computing in NOUN library, information services provided in NOUN library such as building digital library, searching library data, building community power were also enumerated. In addition, the implications in terms of cost, staff and maintenance of cloud computing in NOUN library were investigated. Objectives of this study include among others identifying how NOUN library provides its information services and access to its students who are spread across the nation. Four research questions were raised, among which are: the existing computer network available in NOUN library and the rationales for the adoption of cloud computing in NOUN library. Qualitative research method was adopted; Focus group method, NOUN University Librarian and four IT staff were used as sample size of the study. Guided interview constituted the instrument for data collection, while descriptive method was used to analyze the data collected. The finding revealed that LAN, WAN, CAN, Internet and Network were the existing computer networks in NOUN library; another finding of the study shows that NOUN library use cloud computing to provide library and information services to its students who are spread across the country where access to information must not be location specific. The major implication faced by the adoption of cloud computing in terms of cost, staff and maintenance were: budgetary issues which lead to inadequate training of staff and recruiting the right staff to do the job among others. Based on the forgoing, the major way to overcome budgetary issues in the adoption of cloud computing is for NOUN library to solicit for grants from financial institutions like banks, NGOs, and other foundation, more so, since cloud services are usage based or pay as you go pricing, NOUN Library should adjust the usage and cost of its IT services in an efficient way. NOUN library can experience cost reduction and flexibility of cost management.
1.1 Background to the Study
There is a great deal of debate about what cloud computing is, or is not. Hayes (2008) defined “cloud computing as a kind of computing which is highly scalable and use virtualized resources that can be shared by the users. Users do not need any background knowledge of the services before using it. Moreover, a user on the internet can communicate with many servers at the same time and these servers exchange information with one another. Basically, data and adoption in the cloud are available through the internet; it can also be accessed from everywhere and from any device with internet connectivity.
Stroh et al, (2009) defined “cloud computing as “the computing software and services that can be accessed via the internet rather than residing on a desktop or internal server.” Gartner (2012) defined cloud computing as “a style of computing in which massively scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service to external customers using internet technologies. “In various presentations Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) broke this into four different types of cloud computing, namely: Infrastructure, Platform, Applications and Services. Infrastructure is buying Space/ times on external servers, Examples are Amazons, A3, and Bungee. Platform on the other hand, is an existing software platform in which one can build its own application on, such as Facebook. While Application is a software application accessed with a Web browser, examples are Google Docs, Salesforce.com, whereas, Service is a ready to use services accessed with a Web browser such as ADP. Mell and Gance (2011) defined each of the
three services models thus: Software as a Service (SaaS) which allows users to use the provider’s applications on a cloud through a web browser, while Platform as a Service (PaaS) allows users to deploy their own applications on the provider’s cloud infrastructure under the provider’s environment. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) allows users to control and manage computing resources.
Cloud computing can transform the way information systems are built and services delivered. This provides library with an opportunity to extend its impact to its users anywhere anytime. Anyone connected to the internet is probably using some type of cloud computing on a regular basis. Whether they are using Google’s Gmail, Organizing photos on Flickr or searching the Web with Bing they are engaged in cloud environment. As Geoffrey (2013) pointed out, the interesting thing about cloud computing is that it did not start as a technology for the business enterprise, but was driven by the public with services like Facebook and Flickr.
Education today is becoming completely associated with Information Technology (IT) on content delivery, communication and collaboration. The need for server, storage and software are highly demanding in the Universities, For example, the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), that provides its services via online, operates an e-learning Management System known as ILEARN for lectures and notes. It also operates a digital library known as INFORMATION GATEWAY which offers Multimedia tutorials. Whong (2014) remarked that the primary purpose of University libraries is to support University functions of teaching, learning, research and community services in ways consistent with and supportive of the institution’s mission and goals.
According to Tuncay (2010), library can benefit from using cloud computing technology by increasing computing performance, storage capacity, universal accessibility and cost reduction. This can help library in terms of fixed and maintenance cost reduction in the IT investment of both hardware and software as well as computer services. With cloud computing, libraries may prevent financial waste, better track staff activities, and avert technological headaches such as computer viruses, system crashes, and loss of data. When cloud computing is used in the library, this will likely have a significant impact on library services. According to Spreeuwenberg (2012), with cloud computing, it becomes easier to access data with several devices. Especially for mobile devices, this can be really useful since the only thing that is needed is an internet connection. Libraries are shifting their services to cloud computing technology to facilitate its services anywhere and anytime. In libraries, the following have been identified as possible areas of applying cloud computing: Building Digital Library/Repositories, Searching Library Data, Web Site Hosting, Searching Scholarly Content, File Storage, Building Community Power and Library Automation.
Nevertheless, the biggest benefit of the adoption of cloud computing technology is that one does not “buy” the cloud as purchases for software and hardware and hitherto being made for library automation. Much like a common utility, one just pays for what was used, and then turn it off when one is done. The ability to have a server somewhere, to not have to worry about it, turn it up as needed, and pay for only what is used attracts a lot of people to cloud deployment (Creeger: 2009), Library community can apply cloud infrastructure to amplify the power of cooperation and to build a significant, unified presence on the Web. This approach to computing can help libraries save time and money
while simplifying workflows. To date, the main focus of libraries moving into the cloud has been due to, the need to disclose their vast collections. (Gbaje and Aliyu 2014).
In order to contend with the barrage of information available in today’s society, a medium, and an educational institution such as library needs to be put in place for proper acquisition, processing, documenting, retrieving and disseminating of information. The mode of information storage and transmission has undergone many radical changes in format; ranging from print materials to other information storages and transmitting media like non-print sources such as Compact Disc (CD); Diskettes; Magnetic tapes; CD ROMS; hard disks; punched paper tapes; Internet publications; zip disks; educational video and transparencies; books on cassettes; micro form publications; electric publications; machine readable tape; and cloud computing. Libraries have been using some cloud computing services for over a decade. Online databases are accessed as cloud applications. Large union catalogs can also be defined as cloud applications. The selection of which of these information resources to use is a continuous process dictated by changing curriculum, availability of new materials for Library Services. Ordi (2006) observed that these media are useful for storage of data, information, and programs for safe keeping. Creeger (2009), as cited by Gbaje & Aliyu (2014), asserted that cloud computing comes into focus when there is need for increased capacity or added capabilities of computer without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. Users can access database resources via the internet from anywhere for as long as they need without worrying about any maintenance or management of information technology infrastructure.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There are challenges still facing libraries in Nigeria today despite the availability of computerization and automation of library resources. Nok (2006) explains that, some of these challenges include: unreliable WAN/LAN connections that are usually exposed to effects of fire, storms and vandalization, shortage of computer literate staff in the libraries, poor state of power generation, poor maintenance and update culture and poor funding of libraries. Adegbore (2010) further explains that hardware breakdown, software problems, unreliable and epileptic power supply, inadequate funding, staff training deficiency and planned obsolescence of commercial software are part of the challenges facing automation of libraries. Gbadamosi (2012) posits that band with subscription, daily and routine maintenance of computer set and lack of steady funding of library services are some challenges facing library automation.
According to Goldner (2012) libraries can take advantage of cloud computing to get out of technology headache such as hardware breakdown, software problems, staff training deficiency and focus on collection building, patron services and innovation. Geoffery (2013) also added that with the adoption of cloud computing technology in libraries, data can be easily shared among users, and the need for local storage, maintenance and backups will equally be a thing of the past for libraries. Breeding (2012) pointed out that libraries can also take advantages of cloud computing to build digital libraries/repositories, search library data, host website, search scholarly content, store files, build community power and improve library automation.
With these challenges facing automation of library resources, the National Open University of Nigeria Library adopted cloud computing in the provision and management of its
resources. More importantly the nature of the institution is that of Open and Distance Learning. This implies that learning is relatively virtual and online. Hence most of the resources are electronic and web-based. Unlike conventional universities where teaching and learning is situated in a centralized place, National Open University of Nigeria has 69 Study Centres scattered across the nation and its students are spread across the nation. Consequently the library in order to provide its services and access to its users, need to secure a platform where access must be unfettered and not location specific.
This study examined the level of adoption of cloud computing technology in NOUN library and how its adoption has help solve the challenges of automation and management of physical resources. And to also find out how NOUN library is able to adopt the use of cloud computing in its library despite the budgetary issues, as fear of eliminating staff and concerns over high subscription of cloud computing adoption.
1.3 Research Questions
The study will answer the following research questions:
- What are the existing computer networks available in NOUN Library?
- What are the Rationales for adopting cloud computing in NOUN Library?
- What are the Information services provided using cloud computing in NOUN Library?
- What are the implications in terms of cost, staff, and maintenance in the adoption of cloud computing in NOUN Library?
1.4 Objectives of the Study:
The broad objective of the study is to examine the adoption of cloud computing technology for library services in NOUN library. The specific objectives are:
- To determine the existing computer networks available in NOUN Library.
- To determine the Rationale for adopting cloud computing in NOUN Library
- To determine the Information services provided using cloud computing in NOUN Library.
- To proffer solutions to the implications in terms cost, staff and maintenance of cloud computing in NOUN Library.
1.5 Significance of the Study.
The study will be significant in a number of ways:
First of all, it will be beneficial to NOUN library and its management in the sense that it will reveal to them the degree of effectiveness of the cloud computing technology in meeting the information needs of the users and consequently encourage them towards working out modalities to improve the functionality of cloud computing technology if the need arises.
More also, it will help to reveal the extent to which cloud computing technology is being adopted for NOUN library as it will highlight the past and present state of the adoption of cloud computing technology in the library for its services. The improvement of cloud computing in the library will lead to better library services for the fulfilment of the objectives for NOUN Open and Distance Learning Programmes.
In addition, it will be useful to academics and management of academic institutions in their research. It will also serve as an important knowledge contribution in the area of adoption of cloud computing for library services.
1.6 Scope of Study.
The study examined the adoption of cloud computing technology for library services in the National Open University of Nigeria Headquarter Library Lagos. NOUN has sixteen (16) libraries located in the six geopolitical zones of the country. The Libraries are located in the following zones: Kaduna , Kano Study Centre (North West); Abuja, Lokoja, Makudi Study Centre (North- Central); Enugu, Akwa Study Centre (South-East); Calabar, Benin, Asaba Study Centre (South- South); Bauchi, Jos, Maiduguri, Dutse, Study Centre (North East) Apapa, Lagos main Library, (South-West) For the purpose of this study, the researcher will focus on the Lagos Main Library, and the reasons is due to the fact that cloud computing administration takes place in NOUN Headquarter Main Library.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Cloud: Public or Semipublic space in the cloud used for transmission.
Scaling: The measurement of dimensions using a scale.
Software as a Service (SaaS): Allows users to use the provider’s applications on a cloud through a web browser or an application programming interface.
Platform as a Service (PaaS): Allows users to deploy their own applications on the provider’s cloud infrastructure under the provider’s environment.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Allows users to control and manage computing
Client platform: Device(s) to access cloud resources. E.g. mobile phone, tablets, laptop,
Multi-tenancy: many application users
Virtualization: Act of creating virtual object (rather than actual).
Resource pooling; Enables provider’s computing resources to serve multiple consumers or users, using a multi-tenant model with different physical and virtual resources assigned and reassigned according to user’s demand.
Rapid elasticity: Allows for resources and capabilities to be elastically provisioned and released in some cases automatically to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand.