UTSA launched a university-wide cloud computing initiative in Spring 2013, charging the Departments of Computer Science (CS), Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and Information Systems and Cyber Security (ISCS) to develop the necessary educational and research foundations and facilitate the participation of other departments and faculty.
Provost John Frederick allocated three endowed tenure-track faculty positions in cloud computing, data analytics, and related areas to promote this initiative. In addition, the Departments of CS, ECE, and ISCS are searching for new faculty to replace the vacant lines by which new faculty with interests aligned with the cloud computing initiative. Two of the three tenure-track CS faculty members recruited in the last two years have research expertise and interests that are aligned with cloud computing and big data research.
The College of Business (COB) developed a new master’s degree program in data analytics, which began being offered in Fall 2015. CS, ECE, and ISCS Departments developed and offered more than 10 courses in various topics on cloud computing and big data in the last two years to meet the educational goals of the cloud computing initiative. The CS Department developed two new concentrations—one in cloud computing and the other in data science—at the undergraduate level, which began being offered formally in Fall 2016. The ISCS Department is developing a new undergraduate degree program in cloud computing. Five CS students investigated cloud security and privacy as part of their doctoral research and successfully defended the same last year.
Several faculty members have been involved in the research and educational efforts of the cloud computing initiative: Yoris Au (Associate Professor and Chair of ISCS), Nicole Beebe (Associate Professor, ISCS), Glenn Dietrich (Professor, ISCS), Daniel Pack (Professor and Chair of ECE), Ram Krishnan (Assistant Professor, ECE), Jeff Prevost (Assistant Professor of Research, ECE), Mo Jamshidi (Professor, ECE), Ravi Sandhu (Professor of Computer Science and Director of Institute for Cyber Security), Greg White (Professor of Computer Science and Director of Center of Infrastructure Assurance and Security), Paul Rad (Director of Applied Research in Cloud Computing, CS), Palden Lama (Assistant Professor, CS), Weining Zhang (Associate Professor, CS), and Raj Boppana (Professor and Chair of CS).
The Open Cloud Institute (OCI) accelerates the ongoing university wide cloud computing initiative and helps establish the University of Texas at San Antonio as the top academic institution for education, research, and technology transfer in cloud computing and technologies. OCI resources will provide extensive support for curricular development, workforce training for students, and research by faculty who use clouds for research applications or investigate the design of clouds. OCI will also actively engage with the industry partners such as Rackspace, Microsoft, CPS Energy, Southwest Research Institute, and ProfitBricks to facilitate technology transfer and provide a novel platform for industry projects that will lead to state-of-the-art experiments, findings, and innovations. In addition to the Colleges of Business, Engineering, and Sciences, departments, research institutes, and centers will participate and benefit from OCI resources and activities.
Initial funding and resources came from the donations received from 80/20 foundation with any corresponding HEB matching funds and research grants from Rackspace, the National Science Foundation, and other sources, and in-kind equipment donations from industry. The 80/20 foundation donated or committed funds up to $3.4 M in support of the cloud initiative. The efforts over the last several years resulted in ‘in-kind’ (servers, memory, and switches) donations with a nominal value of over $2 M.