Glow Futures project seems to have taken an interesting turn with the introduction of glew.org.uk. Glew is the work of Charlie Love and has been constructed to provide a portal front end which provides an easy place to start when accessing a range of application cloud and hosted applications as follows. It is a excellent proof of concept (POC) – which will need to evolve in a number of ways before it can become a national portal.
You can red more about the components in the following page which is a snapshot of Charlies Glew Wiki page.
I do not propose to say a great deal about this here but I do want to ask the following questions about how this proof of concept might evolve into a service and become the face of Glow in the future.
These are to an extent issues that I think need to be carefully considered as well as some questions that occur to me.
- Glow should continue to be a national platform with a set of core services which are hosted – so who/what organization will take responsibility for hosting arrangements? As the service scales, the hosting requirement CPU/Power etc will increase – how will this be dealt with?
- Other third party services should be available to users to enrich the feature set – who will be responsible or by what process will third party services be assured and included?
- Single Sign On (SSO) is essential – will users retain their current Glow UID/PWD in the new platform? If so, how will this be enabled? If not, what procedures will be put in place to provision new accounts nationally?
- What mechanisms and procedures will be implemented to ensure that the user base is trusted?
- Will we see a presence service which is universal throughout the platform?
- Will the UI be customizable to individual user needs, including the very young, those with particular physical needs, etc?
- What formally constituted organization will be responsible to ensure that the core services will remain available and provide adequate performance on a 365/24/7 basis?
- What will the terms of service be?
- Who will pay? The portal and authentication service needs to be hosted and powered – these are not likely to be available on a free basis, especially as the service scales up.
- Who will ultimately own the service and take responsibility for the conduct of its users?
- Will Federated Authentication be available to support access to external and federated services through the UKAMF. Currently this includes, as examples, SCRAN and other services managed by Education.
- What provision for retraining staff and users will be made to facilitate a smooth transition?
- Concerning the future evolution of the service, what plans/procedures/facilitates will be put in place to allow system upgrades and modification to proceed with minimal risk to continuity of service.
One aspect of Glow which had been noted as a great success Glow Groups. This is an aspect which should be retained in the new solution – I see that Glow does feature access to Google Group’s which is a reassuring start but fundamental to the set-up and management of such collaboration is the existence of a role based user directory.
So, will there be a national directory that will allow special interest groups (SIGs) to be established, including role-based SIGs that can be created and populated in a top-down manner as well as bottom-up, and that can be ‘owned’ by schools, by local, regional and national bodies, as well as by individuals?
What will happen to all the currently-established Glow Groups? Is there a migration plan in place to allow not only users but the groups to which they belong making a smooth transition to the new platform?
Of one thing I am certain, to make a smooth transition from Glow 1 to Glow 2 will require a well designed plan which can be executed without major disruption to the user base.
I trust that the above matters are being given very careful and comprehensive consideration.