WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CHALLENGES THAT STUDENTS FACE WHEN WORKING ON CLOUD COMPUTING CAPSTONE PROJECTS

One of the biggest challenges that students face is properly scoping the project. Cloud computing is a very broad field that touches on areas like infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, software as a service, and more. Students need to carefully identify the specific problem or application they want to focus on early in the process. Otherwise, there is a risk of the project becoming too broad or ambiguous in scope.

Related to project scoping is effectively managing expectations. Since this is a capstone project, there are expectations that it will demonstrate a high level of technical skills and knowledge. It’s also an academic exercise for students who are still learning. Setting realistic goals and delivering incremental work is important. It’s better to complete a well-designed smaller project than to bite off more than can reasonably be achieved.

Deadlines are also a major challenge. Capstone projects have strict deadline requirements to accommodate things like grading periods or project defenses. Cloud projects often involve Stand-up and configuring new infrastructure, which can be time consuming. Unanticipated complexities or delays accessing resources can cause schedule problems. Students need to plan schedules conservatively and communicate issues promptly.

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Finding and accessing appropriate cloud resources within budget constraints can be difficult. Common cloud platforms have free tiers but expensive beyond that. Students need to right-size resources, estimate costs early, and may need to consider alternative free platform options. This requires research and planning that some students underestimate.

Designing for cloud-native principles like scalability, reliability, availability and maintainability is a steep learning curve for many. Students have to think differently than traditional applications, but may lack experience. Iterative development is needed plus guidance on best practices like microservices, immutable infrastructure, devops processes, monitoring etc.

Documentation and non-functional requirements are often given insufficient attention by students new to professional development. Things like security, logging, error handling, testing, deployment pipelines etc. are critical but take effort to implement properly for the cloud. Not fully addressing these can negatively affect grades.

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Collaboration in teams can pose coordination and social challenges, especially if working virtually. Some students are not used to Agile methodologies and may struggle with tasks like estimating work, standups, managing dependencies and integrating each member’s work into a cohesive whole. Effective project management is needed.

Accessing cloud platform documentation and support resources varies greatly depending on the particular provider. Navigating and troubleshooting issues with an unfamiliar platform under time pressures is daunting. Important to leverage TAs, professors and user groups for help where possible.

Effective communication and establishing processes for managing expectations, scope, schedules and risks are important for student success. Iterative delivery, focusing on learning objectives over scope, and guidance from experienced faculty are also crucial for overcoming these common challenges. With proper support and realistic goal-setting, cloud capstone projects can still serve as an excellent learning experience despite inherent difficulties. Regular course corrections and adapting to challenges are part of the learning experience too.

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While cloud computing capstone projects present exciting learning opportunities for students, they also commonly involve substantial difficulties related to project scoping and management, infrastructure setup, architectural design tradeoffs, collaboration, documentation and accessing support resources – all within the constraints of strict deadlines. With experience, students can overcome many challenges through disciplined processes, effective communication, and support from faculty and cloud providers. But it requires realistic expectations and focusing on incremental progress rather than perfection. With a well-designed plan and openness to course corrections, cloud capstones can succeed despite facing hurdles that are typical for student projects tackling new technologies.

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