CISC 886*

Cloud Computing

Fall 2014

[Announcements | General Information]

[Computing Resources | Course Content | Required Work]

Cloud computing is a distributed computing paradigm where computing resources are provided in an on-demand manner. The goal of the courses is to introduce students to key concepts and techniques from cloud computing. The course focuses on issues such as system architectures, resource allocation and management, and approaches and systems for the storage, management and processing of data in cloud environments.


The learning objectives of the course are the following:

·         Students should understand the motivation for, and the costs/benefits of, cloud computing.

·         Students should become familiar with key concepts and technologies in cloud computing.

·         Students should become familiar with the issues surrounding big data.

·         Students should become familiar with recent systems for the storage, processing and management of big data in the cloud.

·         Students should achieve a depth of understanding of at least one data management research topic within cloud computing.


·         Slides and background reading for the first three weeks of classes are available.

General Information


Khalid Elgazzar
Goodwin Hall 531
613 533 2948


Monday 11:30 – 1:00 and Wednesday 12:00 – 1:30 in Goodwin 521.


A background in DBMSs and permission of the instructor.

Computing Resources

Course projects will be carried out in a cloud environment such as the Amazon cloud. The use of cloud in the course is generously supported by Amazon through an Amazon Education Grant.

Course Content

The course will tentatively cover the following topics:

·         Cloud computing concepts

·         Cloud data stores

·         Large-scale data processing and analysis

·         Relational DBMSs in the cloud

·         Resource provisioning and management

A course schedule, lecture slides and course bibliography are available on the CISC 886 wiki. Access to the wiki will be assigned in the first week of classes.


Course Requirements

Students are expected to have a background in database management systems (CISC 432/832 or equivalent). Knowledge of distributed systems or service-oriented computing will be beneficial but is not required.

Students will be evaluated as follows:

Classroom participation (15%):
Students are expected to read all papers covered in a week, come to class prepared to discuss their thoughts and take part of the classroom discussions.

Paper presentation and discussion (20%):
Each paper will be assigned to two students; one will act as a presenter and the other as a discussant. The presentation will last 15 minutes and the discussion will last 15-30 minutes. Each student should upload their slides to the course wiki before the class.

Weekly critiques (20%):
For weeks 5 – 6 and 8 - 10, each student who is not assigned a role of presenter or discussant should pick one of the papers for that week and submit via email a one page critique of the paper before the start of class. The critique should offer a brief summary of the paper, points in favour, points against, and comments for improvement.


Project (45%):
One original project carried out individually or in a group of 2 students. The project will explore one or more of the topic areas covered in the course. Details of the project are available on the CISC 886 wiki.


All components of this course will receive letter grades which, for purposes of calculating your course average, will be translated into numerical equivalents using School of Graduate Studies approved scale.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see These values are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University (see the Senate Report on Principles and Priorities

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations concerning academic integrity and for ensuring that their assignments conform to the principles of academic integrity. Information on academic integrity is available in the Arts and Science Calendar (see Academic Regulation 1, on the Arts and Science website (see, and from the instructor of this course. Departures from academic integrity include plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification, and are antithetical to the development of an academic community at Queen's. Given the seriousness of these matters, actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning or the loss of grades on an assignment to the failure of a course to a requirement to withdraw from the university.

Copyright Statement

The material on this website is copyrighted and is for the sole use of students registered in CISC 886. The material on this website may be downloaded for a registered student’s personal use, but shall not be distributed or disseminated to anyone other than students registered in CISC 886.


Failure to abide by these conditions is a breach of copyright, and may also constitute a breach of academic integrity under the University Senate’s Academic Integrity Policy Statement.



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