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The State of the Cloud in Education

17 Feb 2016 by Jessica Hall

According to the Forrester report published December 2015, “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015,” building an app that spends its entire life in the same public cloud is the ideal cloud application model. Stepping outside of this model is more realistic, but it presents challenges for Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) professionals.

The cloud conversation often centers on connectivity and movement of apps, increasing interest in open-source tooling to bypass aspects of vendor lock-in, and excitement around containers or API management. The Forrester report scores the maturity of each interoperability and migration category so you can make the informed decision of whether to migrate apps to the cloud. 

Diving into these complex topics, we were interviewed in the making of this report as one of more than 25 enterprise and vendor thought leaders. (Insight is listed as a resource on pages 2 and 12, and indirectly positioned as one of the thought leaders on page 3.) As your K – 12 school evaluates and plans for new IT services, consider the four reasons our experts believe partial or total delivery via the cloud could be a viable option for your organization.

Less expensive

More than half of school and district IT leaders said they don’t have enough money to “meet overall expectations of the school board / district leaders,’’ according to the 2015 K – 12 IT Leadership Survey by the Consortium for School Networking(CoSN). Offering high-volume storage capabilities and external management, cloud-based service is less expensive than installing, maintaining and using physical hardware.

By migrating to cloud solutions, your school district can eliminate a major budget line item, as you’ll no longer need to spend thousands of dollars on new servers every few years. The flexibility to use only what your school district requires will also allow you to scale up or down as needed.

Frees up resources

Because cloud-based software is not stored on in-house servers, it’s not directly managed by your school district’s IT staff. Instead, that responsibility falls on the service provider, freeing up school staff to focus on more important matters like using cloud technologies to help students explore their greatest curiosities, work with their peers, and enhance their education in and outside of the classroom.

A cloud solution may free up resources in other ways, too. For example, it enables the easy distribution of teaching materials, administrative memos, syllabi and other important information, saving time and money.

Security and control

According to a study conducted by SafeGov.org and the Ponemon Institute, nearly three-fourths of senior staff and IT professionals in schools view threats to student privacy as the biggest risk of moving to the cloud. With easy-to-navigate administrative controls, you’ll have complete control over distribution and access. Josh Jones, senior network security architect at Insight, adds, “In most cases, the cloud is more secure than an on-premises data center. Cloud providers have made — and continue to make — significant investments to ensure the infrastructure is secure.”

On a smaller scale, teachers are also able to maintain the privacy of student information and assignments by storing this content on private clouds as opposed to saving it on a computer or a USB drive where it’s vulnerable to destruction or theft. Students, parents, teachers and administrators can be confident in the privacy and security of a secure cloud environment.

Start small

Migrating to cloud services won’t require a major transition for schools. Districts can opt to start small, implementing just a few cloud services and building from there. Starting with just one school in your district is another option, as this can help validate a more comprehensive conversion.

New York City Intermediate School 339 made the move to the cloud and went from 22% of students scoring at grade level in math to nearly half reaching that mark. Attendance was also higher, and suspension levels had dropped.

This transition needs to start with appropriate planning — quite frankly, it’s instrumental to success when shifting to the cloud. Having a solid understanding of all the costs associated with planning, integrating and migrating to the cloud is nothing short of a requirement. 

Technology is vital to meet new education demands, and to prepare students for higher education and future careers. Insight is here to help your school with cost-effective solutions and services to address all curriculum standards in a secure environment.

Download the Forrester report published December 2015, “The State Of The Cloud: Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2015” to learn more.