Iliff in the Cloud

Guest post from David Petty, MDiv Student and IT Support Specialist

When asked about where I go to school, I typically respond with the physical location: “Denver, Colorado—Iliff School of Theology.” I have come to realize that for many of my cohort here at Iliff, Denver is not “where” they attend school. Denver is not the “where” as much as the “how”.  These students (probably some of you reading this right now) come from all over the world.  Some live within minutes of campus and attend school online out of preference or scheduling needs.  Others have no choice but to attend Iliff online due to their geographic location, thousands of miles away from the brick and mortar buildings.

In the IT Department, we joke about the consequences of a snow day compared to the consequences of a server failure.  If something prevents students from coming to campus, there’s still a way for students to access their educational community.  If all of our academic technologies were to fail, it would necessitate a temporary hiatus for coursework.

So, through the wonders of technology, Iliff is able to bring coursework, library resources, community, lectures, worship, communication, and more to your fingertips anywhere in the world.  With all of that riding on technology, what if a server goes down?  With other existing technology, most of the ways we connect students to their experience here at Iliff are hosting “in the cloud”.  While that may seem like a deep theological message, it’s really not.  We also don’t mean to give anyone the idea that anything is physically located in any clouds.  So, what do we mean by the Cloud?

The easiest way I can think to explain the cloud is this: 

“The Cloud” is a collection of data centers located all over the world that store and process multiple copies of data simultaneously.

When things are in the cloud, they are in many places at once. If one server goes down, another one picks up where that one left off.  This means less (if any) down time and that data is secure and reliable.  While campus cannot be open 24/7, these online platforms are.  While the doors are closed and the lights are off in the brick-and-mortar building that we call “Iliff Hall,” the communities of learning are thriving.  These online platforms attempt to build something new that has yet to reach its full potential. As we gear up for Iliff's 125th anniversary, I can only begin to imagine what the next 125 years will look like for the Iliff School of Theology and the community that identifies itself by that name.