Building, Exploring and Teaching in the Cloud
Education and Careers The explosion of “data science” in the last few years has certainly been fueled by advances in cloud computing.
A data scientist has a large number of tools and services available which enable the analysis of immense sets of data in a shared environment. This new era of collaborative analytics is available to everyone. From a simple web-based spreadsheet to a large cluster of computing machines, storage of data in the cloud enables users to quickly share their data and simultaneously utilize superior resources that were impossible to attain only a few years prior. This new paradigm is quickly becoming the new tool in every field, from medicine to finance and in less obvious disciplines like sociology. Where we once wondered, now we seek our answers from data-driven analyses.
The contemporary database
Cloud computing is so immensely powerful because it removes the laborious overhead of building technology from the ground up. With only a web browser, one can create enterprise quality databases in the cloud in the matter of minutes. Software applications containing dozens of preformed modular parts are stitched together with open source programming languages and tools.
"Ultimately the combination of core computer science skills with practical cloud-based tools creates a well-rounded student ready to tackle real world problems at a level that cutting-edge employers demand."
Deploying a working version of a web application or number-crunching program takes hours of work, not weeks. This is due to the low barrier to entry and the low risk associated with minimal cost-to-build.
Cultivating the cloud
Learning cloud computing can be as challenging as teaching it. An overwhelming number of cloud-based services are available and the choices for application architecture and programming languages are many. Development is rapid, with new features and frameworks arriving regularly. Teaching data science in a cloud computing context is best with a strong program in fundamental topics, such as Linux mastery, database design, machine learning and graphic visualization.
Adding in strong ties to cloud-based services integrates the students base knowledge with their practical knowledge in their practicum program. Ultimately the combination of core computer science skills with practical cloud-based tools creates a well-rounded student ready to tackle real world problems at a level that cutting-edge employers demand.