CS4740 Cloud Computing

Neal Magee, Ph.D. email
Solution Architect, Research Computing
University of Virginia, Fall 2021


Course Description

This course investigates the architectural foundations of the various cloud platforms and examines both current cloud computing platforms and modern cloud research. Student assignments utilize the major cloud platforms. Prerequisite: CS 2150 with grade of C- or higher.

Cloud Computing has become an everyday term, but its meaning often remains unclear - it could mean Dropbox, Gmail, iCloud, Heroku, Carbonite, etc. For the purposes of this course, "cloud computing" makes up a specific way of creating, managing, and interacting with publicly-accessible, API-driven, computing infrastructure and services, so-called IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).

We will discuss the technical, business, and practical reasons that cloud computing emerged, and the ways it has evolved in the last 15 years. Attention will be paid to the ways cloud computing - by empowering users to create and use infrastructure on demand and at scale - places additional risks and requirements upon the user, such as cost, security, and operational viability.


Fall 2021 - This course will be held in-person

This course is being offered in-person, Tuesdays/Thursdays from 2:00-3:15pm in Mechanical Engineering 205. Map location

Office hours will be held online Wednesdays, 2:00-3:30pm EDT. Visit the #office-hours channel in Discord and we will use zoom breakouts as needed.


This course will emphasize hands-on experience in the creation, management, and consumption of cloud-based services. For the purposes of getting started I will assume that you fit roughly into at least one of three categories as you approach the subject:

  1. Developer
  2. Systems Administrator / Systems Engineer
  3. Data Scientist / Researcher

While some students often have some experience working in the cloud through projects or internships, we will make no assumptions about any previous experience with cloud concepts or services. Students of this course will learn how to create dynamic, secure, cloud resources according to best practices, with an emphasis upon creating reusable snippets of infrastructure-as-code.


Component Weight Notes / Due
Student Survey First week of class
Readings and supplmeental material Weekly before class
Labs 20% Complete 10 separate lab assignments
Programming Assignments 40% Complete 4 separate programming projects
Mid-Term Exam 20% October 29, 2021
Final Exam 20% December 11, 2021

Course Elements


Students in this course will encounter the following tools on a weekly basis:

Student Action Items

Access your AWS Classroom account
Install aws-cli tools and keys
Create a GCP account
Sign up for GCP credits
Install gcloud tools and authenticate
Create a GitHub account
Join the Discord server
Install Docker
Create a free Qwiklabs account


Honor Policy

The course will be conducted according to the UVA honor system. Programming assignments and exams are to be completed by the individual (no group collaborations). You will sign an honor pledge for all assignments, quizzes, and exams; more importantly, I expect you to adhere to the intent of the pledge. Cooperative efforts at understanding the material and technologies of the course are encouraged.

All suspected violations will be forwarded to the Honor Committee, and you may, at my discretion, receive an immediate zero on that assignment regardless of any action taken by the Honor Committee.

If you believe you may have committed an Honor Offense, you may wish to file a Conscientious Retraction by calling the Honor Offices at (434)924-7602. For your retraction to be considered valid, it must, among other things, be filed with the Honor Committee before you are aware that the act in question has come under suspicion by anyone. More information can be found at http://honor.virginia.edu. Your Honor representatives can be found at: http://honor.virginia.edu/representatives.

Disabilities or Learning Needs

It is my goal to create a learning experience that is as accessible as possible. If you anticipate any issues related to the format, materials, or requirements of this course, please meet with me outside of class so we can explore potential options. Students with disabilities may also wish to work with the Student Disability Access Center to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in this course, including official accommodations. Please visit their website for information on this process and to apply for services online: sdac.studenthealth.virginia.edu. If you have already been approved for accommodations through SDAC, please send me your accommodation letter and meet with me so we can develop an implementation plan together.

Lectures and other learning material will be made available throughout the semester, and all assignments and exams will be granted ample time for complmetion. Should you require accommodations through SDAC for extra time, please contact the instructor.

Discrimination and power-based violence

The University of Virginia is dedicated to providing a safe and equitable learning environment for all students. To that end, it is vital that you know two values that I and the University hold as critically important:

  1. Power-based personal violence will not be tolerated.
  2. Everyone has a responsibility to do their part to maintain a safe community on Grounds.

If you or someone you know has been affected by power-based personal violence, more information can be found on the UVA Sexual Violence website that describes reporting options and resources available - www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence.

As your professor and as a person, know that I care about you and your well-being and stand ready to provide support and resources as I can. As a faculty member, I am a responsible employee, which means that I am required by University policy and federal law to report what you tell me to the University's Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator's job is to ensure that the reporting student receives the resources and support that they need, while also reviewing the information presented to determine whether further action is necessary to ensure survivor safety and the safety of the University community. If you wish to report something that you have seen, you can do so at the Just Report It portal (http://justreportit.virginia.edu/). The worst possible situation would be for you or your friend to remain silent when there are so many here willing and able to help.

Religious Accommodations

It is the University's long-standing policy and practice to reasonably accommodate students so that they do not experience an adverse academic consequence when sincerely held religious beliefs or observances conflict with academic requirements.

Students who wish to request academic accommodation for a religious observance should submit their request in writing directly to me as far in advance as possible. Students who have questions or concerns about academic accommodations for religious observance or religious beliefs may contact the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights (EOCR) at UVAEOCR@virginia.edu or 434-924-3200.

Preservation of classroom discussions

I will preserve weekly class discussions in Discord for the duration of the semester. Because these discussions include fellow students, you and they may be personally identifiable in these discussion logs. These logs may only be used for the purpose of individual or group study with other students enrolled in this class during this semester. You may not distribute them in whole or in part through any other platform or to any persons outside of this class, nor may you make your own copies of class discussions unless written permission has been obtained from the Instructor and all participants in the class have been informed. For additional details, please see Provost Policy 008 which is expected to be updated for the Fall 2021 semester.

Other Details

Support or Contact

If you have a question about any aspect of this course - a particular topic, method, concept, etc. - please contact the TAs or me via Discord or email. It is often the case that you're not the only one having trouble understanding it!