There is a growing trend of using cloud environments for ever growing storage and data  processing needs. However, adopting a cloud computing paradigm may have positive as well as negative effects on the data security of servicing consumers.  The focus of this research is on the development of a proof-of-concept system for security and integrity of result computations in a cloud computing environment by implementing  a four level cloud based application security gateway methodology for result computations that would help protect  data from all forms of un-authorized access . The application was developed using PHP, Hypertext pre-processor, AJAX, JavaScript, Extended markup language (XML) and  MySql database as the backend engine. The developed system evaluation and testing show a significant difference in system response time, data consistency,  availability of large storage capacity to meet increasing demand of data and secured access gateway to vital recourses.



1.1 Background  of the Study

Generally it is known that in our knowledge and technology-driven global village, each country’s economic and social well-being depends on its ability to harness its human resources through a dynamic and innovative educational system that thrives on and propels technological development. This required link between educational and technological development is particularly critical at the higher levels of the educational system, and especially, university education. Internet connectivity and various forms of web-enabled technologies are growing exponentially, and more and more information is becoming available on-line, thereby opening up new information research and networking opportunities. These developments are erasing the traditional borders and boundaries of learning, and leading to radical changes in the activities of scholarly communities. Modern university education now depends on a robust programme of automated information services to support and facilitate teaching, learning, research and management. This scenario of accelerated technological change poses new challenges and opportunities for universities, and Nigerian universities must re-position themselves quickly and continuously to exploit prevailing information technologies to efficiently meet their teaching, learning and research mission. This research work is therefore centered on cloud computing which is an unexplored technology most especially in the Education. Cloud computing is a recent concept that is still evolving across the information technology industry and academia. Several definitions have evolved so far, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (Mell and Grance, 2011), defines cloud computing as “a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction ˮ. There are three major types of cloud computing services: First, Processing Clouds that provide scalable and mostly affordable computing resources that run enterprise programs, which is also sometimes known as Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Secondly,  Storage Clouds that offer an alternative to local file systems also known as  Platform as a Service (PaaS), and thirdly, Application Clouds that allow a thin client to interact with services that are completely hosted on an external infrastructure also called Software as a Service (SaaS) (Ajith and Hemalatha, 2012).

The basic principle of cloud computing entails the reduction of in-house data centres and the delegation of a portion or all of the Information Technology infrastructure capability to a third party. This holds the promise of driving down cost while fostering innovation and promoting educational development. Institutions of higher learning, such as Universities and Colleges, are the core of innovation through their advanced research and development. Subsequently, higher Institutions may benefit greatly by exploiting the power of cloud computing, including cost cutting as well as all the above types of cloud services (Goetzinger, 1962). This research work presents a frame work for implementing necessary security and integrity of result computation in cloud computing environment in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Mathematically, a result is a quantity or expression obtained by calculation after an examination while result computation is a mathematical process or calculation involving numbers or quantities obtained from the outcome of an examination based on institutional rules guiding result computation. Nigerian Universities are facing problems in providing necessary Information Technology (IT) support for educational, research and development activities. Every year, lots of data are collected, used and stored in Nigerian Universities, such as student’s personal information, admission details, courses offered, examination scores, etc. These data increases every year as the number of students increases and must be made available or accessible, even many years after completion of a programme from a University which could span for a minimum of four years. These large volume of data requires lots of storage and computing resources such as speed, storage memory, efficiency, etc. 

1.2 Statement of Problem

The entire process of result computation begins with the collation of individual course lecturer’s result or scores which are  submitted to the Head of Department depending on the institution’s policy guiding result submission and computation. After collation, the results are then handed over to the examination officer or submitted to a central office with the responsibility of computing results. The questions that come to mind are; how secured are the data? How often will the data storage capacity be increased to enable it meet the increasing demand of the data? How is the integrity of the data maintained? What is the cost of providing and maintaining the required storage and computing resources? How available or accessible are the data?.

Mostly, these records are manually processed by collating individual candidate’s results and computed by the designated officer(s) before results are being produced. The above named processes are faced with the following challenges:

  • Time wasting: A proper evaluation of the manual system of result computation shows that lots of time is being wasted during the processes involved in computation of results. These includes the time wasted awaiting result submission from individual lecturers, manual computation of individual student’s result, time wasting due to system break down, correction of errors, having to wait for a system expert to solve trivial problems that basic knowledge of computer would have solved, etc.
  • Data Inconsistency: Following the  processes involved in computation of result, the possibility of errors cannot be ruled out since a lot of persons are involved in the computation processes. Thus, the consistency of the result,  is therefore not guaranteed.
  • High Cost of Ownership: There is a realization in Nigeria that the government alone cannot adequately shoulder the high cost of quality education in the 21st century. Partnership between government, industry and stakeholders appears to be the preferred option. In Nigeria, a number of organizations for example, Education Trust Fund (ETF), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) etc donate ICT laboratories equipped with computers to some tertiary institutions. In addition they pay for one year or two years maintenance fee and mandate the recipient institution to sustain the facility. Most of these laudable efforts have failed because the recipients were unable to pay for the high cost of system maintenance and system upgrade. This is because the cost of ICT Infrastructure in Nigeria consist of not only capital cost but also high operating cost. Thus the cost of ownership is very high.
  • De-centralization: Currently, some Universities do result computation manually or electronically on standalone systems i.e. individual departmental result  resides on different computers or devices. Therefore, the security of such result cannot be guaranteed i.e. the decentralization of results makes it difficult to protect the data from illegal usage or unforeseen data loss. Thus, it is the investigation of the above problems and providing solutions that this research work is based on.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The objectives of this research work are to develop a system that should be able:

i         to compute result in cloud environment.

ii.       to provide a 4-level security system for maintaining the security and        integrity of result computation in cloud computing environment.

1.4     Scope of the Study

The scope of this work is to develop a cloud based software which will be deployed using a private cloud deployment model. This application will majorly be used for the computation of result in Nigerian universities with strictly adherence to the application security by proposing a four-level user authentication.

1.5     Limitation of the Study

There are numbers of limitation that are to be noted in this research work:

i. The infrastructures used is this research work is an abstract model of the proposed data centre used in the work, this is due to insufficient fund to set up the real scenario of the proposed model .

ii. Cloud computing is an emerging computing paradigm that is yet to be embraced in this part of the globe and therefore made it difficult to source for research materials needed for this work.

1.6     Significance of the study

The study will provide the Nigerian Universities with a reliable and secured environment for result computation which is fast, effective and efficient for result processing and management with little or no concern to the storage and computing resources (speed, storage capacity, etc.). Most importantly, the study will also foster the reduction of  the huge financial budget invested into IT on Nigerian Universities. Also, the time wasted in the result computation processes will be largely reduced thereby propelling institutional development. Over the years, nigerian universities have been computing results manually which usually results into large volume of paper usage, not only that the papers degradate over the years but also a lot of valuable storage spaces are being used for the safe keeping. Thus, this research work is geared at solving the storage problems and also to foster future usage and accessiblity of records amongst others. The adoption of  cloud technology with the peculiarity of it’s price models would help to reduce the stained educational budget for running ICT projects in the nigerian universities, this could also serve asan optimun solutions to other ICT needs within the university and could also foster content sharing, collaboration and research within local and internationl universities.