Columbian College Private Cloud

Any Time, Any Resource, Any Place, Any DeviceThe Columbian College Private Cloud is a highly flexible internal IT resource pool based on industry standard virtualization platforms and end user service delivery models.  The Columbian Cloud enables faster and more cost effective delivery of IT services for Columbian College constituents.  The short and simple explanation of our Cloud is this:  secure access for faculty, students, and staff to Columbian IT resources from any place, at any time, and from any device.  The Columbian Cloud is entirely private, meaning all of the data storage and servers are owned by GW and located on GW premises.  Unlike public cloud services (Amazon S3, DropBox,, Google), all instances of your digital identity and data are stored on GW equipment and controlled by GW staff, with the location known at all times.  The administrative, logical, and physical controls surrounding the Columbian Cloud meet University data security policies and are designed to comply with data management requirements for sponsored research.

ColumbianID Authentication

All Columbian College faculty and staff are entitled to a ColumbianID account.  This account is required to access all Columbian Cloud resources.  Students registered in a course using Columbian-managed computing resources are also entitled to ColumbianIDs.  This credential is different than your GW NetID.

Columbian Cloud Data Storage

All Columbian College Cloud users receive a personal home folder (H drive) and are granted to access to their home department shared drive (G drive). 

Storage Quotas

The following breakdown describes user storage quotas:

  • Faculty
    All full-time faculty receive a 100GB quota for their personal home folder.  This storage is intended for general University use in the areas of administration, instruction, and research.
  • Staff
    All staff receive a 20GB quota for their personal home folder.  This storage is intended for general University administration and support of faculty instruction and research.
  • Students
    Students receive ColumbianIDs on an as-needed basis depending on their course enrollment.  Quotas are established on a per-course basis.

Users will be notified if their storage quota has been reached or is near the limit.  Users may request additional storage space on a cost-per-gigabyte basis.

Backup and Recovery

Data stored on a user's personal home folder (H drive) or department shared drive (G drive) is routinely backed up every 6 hours (four times daily) and retained for one week.  Weekly backups are retained for one month, and monthly backups are retained for four months.  Requests for recovery should be submitted via the on-line help desk submission form, or by calling the OTS Help Desk.  Data recovery time is generally within 2-4 hours from the time a request is submitted.

The Columbian Cloud replicates data asynchronously between GW's two data centers in Foggy Bottom and Ashburn, Virginia.  This automated data replication increases the resiliency of the system.

Accessing Cloud

  • On-Campus
    Your on-campus workstation (Mac or PC, wired network) may be configured for direct access to Cloud resources such as network drives and network printers.  On a PC, your Cloud network drives will appear in My Computer.  On a Mac, your Cloud network drives will appear on your desktop.  Based on your home department, network printers are configured automatically.  Wireless access from GWireless and GW1X are considered "off-campus" for security reasons.
  • Off-Campus
    The primary method of accessing Cloud resources from off-campus locations (and on-campus GWireless and GW1X wireless networks) is via the Columbian Cloud Portal.  Based on Citrix technologies, the portal provides a one-stop shop for accessing virtual applications and desktops in a secure and universal manner.  When accessing applications and desktops from this portal, the sessions are running inside the GW Data Center and only encrypted screenshots and keystrokes are passed between your device and the server.  When storing data on your Cloud drive, the data remains inside the data center and is accessing directly by the virtual applications and/or desktops.  The Columbian Cloud Portal supports connections from Mac, PC, Linux, iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices using the Citrix Receiver.  The Citrix Receiver will allow access to local printers and storage within your virtual session.

As a secondary means for remote access, when using a CCAS-managed Cloud workstation, you may directly mount network shared drives on your Mac or PC after connecting to our CCAS virtual private network (VPN).  This method will mount your Cloud drives in My Computer (PC) or on your desktop (Mac).  This method is useful for large file transfers between your workstation's local storage and your Cloud drive.  The performance of this connection will be limited based on your Internet connectivity.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Columbian Cloud

  • How must does it cost?

The Columbian College has centrally funded a base set of services for all of its academic departments and constituents.  Each department receives a one-time 250GB storage allocation, each staff member receives a 20GB storage allocation, and each faculty member receives a 100GB storage allocation.  Any storage requests for research projects and storage quota increases require a chargeback to the department or sponsored funds.  The College’s chargeback model delivers services at costs far below public cloud providers.

  • Why should I use "Cloud?"

The primary objective of the Cloud project is to enable Columbian constituents to work in a manner that is most productive, but balance end user flexibility with cost, security, and supportability.  The College’s Cloud provides a wide array of services and options for end users.  If there’s something we’re missing, please provide feedback!  Additionally, many faculty are not currently operating within the data management requirements of their grants.  The use of DropBox, Box.Net, and public GoogleDocs is discouraged.

  • How secure is "Cloud?"

The Columbian College Cloud is physically hosted by the University’s Division of IT in the Foggy Bottom Data Center.  When located on campus, a user’s data never leaves the campus network.  However, as dictated by grant requirements, OTS may utilize an additional security layer for encrypting your file traffic between your on campus workstation and the data center.  For users accessing Cloud virtual desktops and application from on and off campus locations, all traffic is secured by a 128-bit SSL encryption standard.