Schools and Colleges

iSchool master’s program to focus on cloud computing

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Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies will offer a new master’s degree program in enterprise data systems this fall.

Due to a rise in companies relying on cloud based data storage, Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies will offer a new master’s degree program in enterprise data systems this fall.

The program will teach students how data is processed, stored and networked primarily through cloud-based infrastructure, said Carlos Caicedo, the curriculum lead for the new program and an associate professor in the iSchool. Applications have opened for the program and will officially close June 1. Students must complete 36 credits and have to take 12 credits of selected a secondary focus area to finish the program.

The purpose of this new master’s degree is to train professionals who can simultaneously sit with a CEO in a meeting and immediately design technology to complete the required data-driven tasks, said Caicedo and Jeffrey Saltz, an associate professor in the iSchool.

The “traditional IT guy that’s in a basement moving cables around” is becoming more obsolete as companies want more well-rounded professionals, Caicedo said. The new master’s program was created over the past year and a half in response to feedback from industry partners.

“The employers are now asking for more of these students who can … manage storing, sharing, accessing all the data,” said Elizabeth Liddy, the dean of the iSchool. “So we develop these programs because it’s responsive. We want to ensure that our students get the best jobs and that our employers are happy with how the students are prepared.”

This new program is different than other programs the iSchool already offers because it focuses primarily on combining management and technical knowledge. Previously, there was not a comprehensive master’s degree that merged these skills.

Companies that rely on data, such as Amazon or Google, need employees who know how to handle data on a technological level — and a management level — which is how enterprise data systems function, Caicedo said.

This program also teaches students how to properly design and use cloud-based infrastructure as a system in which data is stored externally.

“We want people to understand not just the technology and not just the infrastructure side of data, but also how people use that data,” Caicedo said.

Cloud computing is becoming more prevalent as companies acquire large amounts of data without knowing ways to store or network the data, Saltz said. Everyone has heard about the cloud, but actually getting the technology and infrastructure of the cloud to work properly takes a lot of skill, he added.

SU now offers a range of data-related programs, including this master’s program, and a pre-existing business analytics program in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the data science program in the School of Engineering’s computer science department.

The iSchool’s enterprise data systems master’s degree has the capacity to teach students the technological components of managing data, unlike the business analytics program and the data science program.

“There are lots of programs in the iSchool or Whitman or computer science that talk about building applications or the context of how to use applications,” Saltz said. “But there’s a gap in how do we deploy the tools required to make those apps work.”

The master’s program is innovative in a way, because it caters to what companies have specifically said they needed, Liddy and the other iSchool professors said. The program is different because students will see both sides of the cloud: the side of the developer and the side of the user, Saltz said.

Liddy and the iSchool professors said they are confident that students, after completing the master’s course, will be hired by a company to work with enterprise data systems.

“In this data-driven world, you need professionals that understand all the details related to infrastructure that deals with the data,” Caicedo said.

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