VM/Cloud survey

This is the final report for DevProj:256


This project conducted a survey covering a number of subjects mostly relating to Virtualisation and cloud services. The survey specifically looked into

  • Current use of virtualisation within Informatics.
  • The viability of KVM type services
  • Use of cloud based data storage
  • Use of various SAAS/PAAS platforms
  • The awareness of legal implications of using the above services.

The survey was implemented in house using webmark and the survey report and supporting (anonymises) information can be found in /afs/inf.ed.ac.uk/group/rat-unit/projects/devproj-256 The original survey returns can be found in the cloud survey section of webmark.

Survey software

A number of survey websites were looked at before we eventually chose webmark, including Isurvey, google surveys, surveymonkey and free survey. In the end we went with webmark partly because of data storage issues and partly because webmark was more flexible. In particular we didn't want to generate a very long survey with multiple pages that would take ages to complete.

General survey design

The survey was designed to try to obtain the maximum amount of information from the minimum of input, by using default values and allowing sensible multiple responses. Having a large number of comments fields hopefully meant that if we were providing completely the wrong answers people could tick "other" and explain what they were doing. Even a complete null response would generate meaningful information although we didn't get any of those

Target audience

The survey was targeted at all staff and research students in order to cover people in the school who:
  • Specify services for teaching and reserach.
  • Are most likely to handle sensitive data
  • Are most likely to be responsible for I.P.

In general we got a reasonable response although the return from admin staff was dissapointing

Time taken

Amount: 5 weeks Some of this included learning to use webmark (probably 3-4 days) and there was a further 3-4 days spend playing with various bits of software in order to decide how to generate the graphs for the report.


Webmark is fairly good at generating this kind of survey, the only real let down was that it wasn't possible to generate graphs straight from the returns but this would have been beyond the scope of the software as originally specced so it's an unreasonable request.

oocalc is useful for quickly throwing together results from csv files but rapidly becomes unmanagable as the complexity of the data and the questions you would like to ask of it increases. generating results of conditional queries involving multiple responses (i.e. queries along the lines of "Of the people who are currently using VMs how many are interested in a KVM service and how many of them would be willing to pay") rapidly becomes unmanagable and fraught with the possibility of error. In retrospect dumping the results into a database and using python or R would have been a better approach, albeit with a higher learning curve.

We should have had some of the anaysis software in place during the trial because we missed out on some information relating to multiple questions because people responded in ways we didn't quite expect.

More by luck than judgement we seemed to hit a sweet spot at the time we sent the survey out (8.30), most of the responses came back fairly quickly and we seem to have caught people when they were responsive before they'd settled down to work for the day.

-- IainRae - 04 Aug 2014

Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
pdfpdf surveyreport2.pdf manage 154.0 K 29 Sep 2014 - 10:54 IainRae Formal survey Report
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Topic revision: r5 - 25 Nov 2014 - 09:29:13 - IainRae
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