The Importance of Cloud Computing in Education: Switching to the vertical cloud

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    43% of higher institutions have already adopted cloud computing — and many more are following suit. Cloud computing makes it possible for organisations to leverage vastly superior resources than they could otherwise maintain, in addition to making it easier for students and teachers to operate remotely. Despite this, cloud computing can seem overwhelming to some educational facilities, and there are many institutions that have historically hesitated to make widespread technological changes. These institutions — like universities and schools — are going to need to change if they want to compete in the education sector and deliver their students and staff the enhanced experience many are now demanding.

    The importance of cloud computing in education

    Cloud computing isn’t just about “moving to the cloud” in terms of data storage and management. While that is a boon, there are a number of other advantages, as well:
    • Fewer upfront costs. A decade ago, educational institutions had to invest thousands of pounds per license for their software, and they needed to repurchase that software whenever there was a more recent version. Today, Software-as-a-Service makes it possible to pay a low, predictable monthly cost rather than an expensive license.
    • Less reliance upon hardware. Not only does the facility itself not need expensive servers and end-user devices, but students and teachers rely less on their expensive hardware as a whole — cloud solutions are platform-agnostic and available to be accessed from anywhere.
    • Being able to reach other students. Students who are busy, non-traditional, or in a remote location no longer need to get to school in allotted time slots. A switch to the cloud means more remote work.
    • Achieving more accurate lesson plans. Cloud computing makes it possible for updates to immediately be pushed to class materials and textbooks, making it certain that students are learning with their best materials.
    • Making learning more flexible overall. Cloud computing means that students and teachers are able to learn and teach on their own time, thereby making them more effective, and happier.
    It’s easy to see why a switch to the cloud is so alluring for many facilities. A switch to the vertical cloud (a cloud tailored to education) is even more effective.

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    What to consider when switching to the cloud

    With the benefits so obvious, why do some refrain from switching to the cloud? Often, it’s simply a matter of resources. Schools may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of cloud migration, and may need a managed specialist to help. Before switching to the cloud, consider: What needs does your organisation have that aren’t currently being met? Your organisation may currently be struggling with outdated software, or may have difficulties keeping its hardware up-to-date. Your internal IT department may currently be overwhelmed and need assistance from a managed IT department, or you may just have old, legacy solutions that you want to get rid of, but can’t, because it’s the only software solution available that does what you want it to do.
    • Are there any major concerns regarding existing programs and data? Can the data be transferred? Ideally, for the purposes of avoiding disruption, you want to be able to easily import and export your organisation’s data within any losses. Regardless, transitions usually happen outside of business hours for this reason.
    • Are there solutions that are currently being relied upon that cannot be updated? Old solutions have a tendency of sticking around in a school because they still work. But that doesn’t mean that they work well or that they might not be a security risk. Your specialist will take a look at solutions that can no longer be updated or have been discontinued, because these can be major security flaws.
    • Is a fully cloud or a hybrid solution better for your school? Cloud solutions are more flexible, but on-premise solutions can be seen as being more secure. Today, many corporations are choosing hybrid solutions of both on-premise and cloud technology. Consider which option you want for yourself.
    • Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be better equipped to make decisions regarding the technology. A cloud transition isn’t always easy, especially for educators using antiquated technology. But ultimately, it’s worth it. And it’s rapidly becoming an industry standard.

    How to make the switch to the cloud

    It’s time to make the switch to the cloud. But how? The best way to do this is to use specialists who can implement cloud computing across the entirety of your infrastructure. Your specialists will review your current situation, audit your existing systems, and determine the best ways to ensure that you have all the functionality you need with minimal disruption. You won’t need to struggle through the process alone, and your employees will be able to get back to work as soon as possible.

    Continued support from specialists

    Specialists are also able to provide support after the cloud computing solution has been installed. But before a switch to the cloud, the school needs to make sure that its employees have been properly trained. During “down times” for the school (such as summer) is often the best time to make major transitions such as these, because it provides minimum disruption and safeguards against any issues that may arise and the time associated with resolving them. The results of switching to a complex new infrastructure such as the cloud without a managed services provider or other expert specialist aren’t always desirable. Cloud solutions are an entirely different type of solution, and those who aren’t familiar with them could be easily lost.

    The cloud is becoming a necessity

    Switching to the cloud is going to become a virtual necessity as the world becomes more remote. With many employees working remotely today, students are sure to follow. Cloud computing is not just powerful, but also simple, easy to use, and affordable. Many institutions are going to be switching over to cloud infrastructures overall, if they haven’t already. For schools and universities, cloud solutions can make it easier to give the students the education they deserve. It’s a responsibility for education professionals to look more deeply into the importance of cloud computing in education, and how it could potentially help them.
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    Troy Platts

    Troy has spent over 20 years helping organisations solve their data, storage and compute conundrums. He is a regular speaker at vendor events and spends any free time he has keeping abreast of advances in data platform technologies. He also makes a mean curry.

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