As mentioned in chapter one, the main objective of this dissertation is to establish whether the introduction of cloud computing will take over the function of server rooms. Furthermore, this chapter seeks to outline the methodology used in constructing this dissertation. The focus of this research is particularly important for companies that are yet to fully embrace cloud computing technology. I am particularly interested in discovering some of the challenges that company executives are going through while embracing the new cloud computing technology. This research had to be done within the time and space available (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2009, p102) and was refined from the early rather ambitious aims to being more focused.
There are various models of research methodology that could be used in this research. Denscombe (2009, p. 200) identifies seven states of methodology. However, these stages appeared too scientific to be used in this research. Personally, I was seeking to understand the perception of a few stakeholders in the networking and telecommunication industries. Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2009, p 108) mention five stages of research that will be highlighted in this paper. The common stages are design, sampling, data collection, data analysis, and the report. I saw this as an implication of a rather complex process that was being suggested by Denscombe (2009, p. 203) This chapter describes and explains the methodology deployed in this study and at the research methods reading which informed my choice of methods (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009, p102). This study is a practical project of field study type that mostly considered secondary sources that touch on the topic.
- Developing the research instrument
It goes without saying that the material available does not adequately address the research question that this research is based on. However, the available literature presents information that can be used as a basis for this research. Secondary data is known to be very strong research, a tool that provides a depth understanding f the research topic from a different perspective. Therefore, the use of secondary sources such as online sources like books and journals was also incorporated in the methodology. Furthermore, we reviewed the cost-benefits of cloud computing as well as the opportunity cost of using server rooms. This research utilized three main research instruments namely the investigation of materials that discuss the supervision of the network administrators, property managers; land developers, constructors, company CEOs, and telecommunication experts. The main objective of conducting such a study was to get firsthand information from the experts followed by information gathered from other published sources. Furthermore, the networking stakeholders who had been interviewed before had better placed to provide adequate information regarding the current expenditures for server rooms as well as cloud networking configurations. The study of the secondary materials evolved after being trialed with a company executive officer who had used telecommunication and technology materials to successfully conduct his research. Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2009, p 145) provide sound advice on how to design and administer research. The research study was designed in such a way that many sources such as books, journals, and other online sources had to be studied. This decision was informed by the fact that most of the networking and migration information was achieved after the authors carried out properly informed studies on the topic that involved lengthy experiments (Denscombe 2009, p. 212). The data that was collected from the experiments were collected and analyzed after which findings were designed. The findings can be found in chapter three of this research. As mentioned by Hofstede, a well-conducted experiment can “gather data at a particular point in time with the intention of describing the nature of existing conditions”, (Hofstede 2001, p. 92). A small sample of stakeholders in the telecommunication industry was identified from the experiments conducted to be prepared for a more detailed experiment that will take place in 4 – 6 months’ time. This experiment would form the basis of more detailed research.
The next stage involved undertaking the research to form the case studies. I visited each of the six companies with three being recently formed companies that were being hosted in new offices while the other three being old companies that have been in operation for more than six years. All that I did was observe how operations were being conducted at companies that use server rooms and the ones that prefer cloud computing (Hofstede 2001, p. 82). I also conducted a cost assessment to establish the opportunity cost of having servers for the network as opposed to just having the cloud network. In most of the cases, I was walked around the premise and shown where the companies hosted their servers where I had some chitchat with the network administrators and technicians. The few points I noted from the study of secondary materials also formed part of this study.
- Collecting the data
The analysis of secondary data was highly successful. The books and journals provided information that thought to be very vital for the study. Since the study materials were obtained from the premises of all old companies, it is my belief that the data collected was devoid of any biasness. It was important to test the personal experiences of the company stakeholders in matters to do with networking. In cases where the executives would not have sufficient information regarding the company’s network needs, a junior officer in charge of networking would intervene (Hofstede 2001). The secondary data gave an impression that was able to back the hypothesis of the available data systems and provide them with a verdict concerning the system’s performance. However, the respondents who offered to take part in the experiment requested that we do not include their names in the study. Anonymity in the report was promised and respected (Hofstede 2001, p. 96). The study of the journals, books, and other internet sources provided a mixed data. The researcher favored a qualitative way of data analysis given that most of the company stakeholders had prior experience in ICT and networking resources (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2009, p108). The other data that were studied during the research had to do with the perceptions of the network administrators on the state of cloud computing was more qualitative. The analysis of secondary materials took place between July and August 2014. The experiments and server room observations provided more detailed qualitative data used in the previous research, hence shedding more light on the research topic.
- The investigative phase
The analysis of secondary data during the research study is where I had an opportunity to invest my time and personal involvement in the study (Hofstede 2001, p. 102). I avoided most of the information that generalized migrations from one network to the next and chose to concentrate on materials that had specific information on cloud networking during the experiments (Gill & Johnson 2002, p. 165) as I intended to include six case studies from the start. The study of each material lasted on average three hours, which included the experiment, a general tour of the networking department, server room (Hofstede 2001, p. 102).
The study of secondary materials was intentionally undertaken during a time when most of the new companies were setting up networking machinery, as this was a critical issue. However, some of the companies I visited were in the early stages of development and therefore they did not have time for experiments (Hofstede 2001, p. 104). This is a frustration of small-scale research, which in some ways never seems complete.
- Data ordering
All the notes taken during the experiments were “collated and classified.” They were then preserved for the next phase which was data analysis. This ensured that the researcher was accountable for the investigations (Gill & Johnson, 2002, p. 179). Field notes were written up based on the experiments and server room observations.
- Data analysis
Data analysis can be found in chapter three of this research. The analysis is aimed at helping evaluate the specific experience of the network administrators in order to make generalizations.
- Writing up
The aim of this stage was so that “the overall conclusions or ‘message’ of the research be summarized in an assimilable and memorable form” (Gill & Johnson 2002, p. 179) and to communicate “the researcher’s empirical experience” to a wider audience (Gill & Johnson, 2002, p. 180). The case studies are “ideally suited to the needs and resources of the small-scale researcher” (Kingsbury 1997, p.66).
- Enabling dissemination
It was important to research an aspect of education that was topical and relevant to today’s technologists. It was an important part of the research process that the findings and particularly the recommendations are made available to a wider audience of companies through my work as an Adviser. Consequently, some of the findings, results, and conclusions will be used on courses. I feel that I have a “duty to make dissemination possible” (Denscombe 2009, p. 232) to the rest of the new and existing companies in order to influence future developments and strategies.
Denscombe, M., 2007. The Good Research Guide (3rd ed). Buckingham: Open University Press.
Hofstede, G., 2001. Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviours, Institutions, and Organisations Across Nations (2nd edn). London: Sage.
Gill, J. and Johnson, P., 2002. Research Methods for Managers (3rd ed) London: Sage Publications.
Kingsbury, P., 1997. IT Answers to HR Questions. London: Institute of Personnel and Development.
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., Thornhill, A., 2009. Research Methods for Business Studies. Prentice-Hall; London.