Academic Cloud Pros and Cons – Don’t Oversimplify Migration


  • Shifting from DIY to Cloud
  • Cloud has Obvious Advantages
  • Running the Numbers
  • Don’t Oversimplify Migration

Shifting from DIY to Cloud

Historically, academic organizations have often handled technology themselves. Preferring to “go it alone” rather than rely on outside providers, thousands of colleges and K-12 schools still maintain their own infrastructures.

However, many CIOs and IT directors in academia are shifting to a model that gets its resources from the cloud. Don’t expect every school to turn away from owning their own servers, but Adam Stern argues cloud will become increasingly commonplace in education throughout the decade.

Technological migrations are not always simple, so system-wide, infrastructural trends such as this one are a gradual process. Not every school is thinking about implementing cloud at any one time.

“A school reaches that fork in the road” of deciding between cloud and on-premise machines “because it has pushed its servers to the end of their useful lives and now need to do something about it,” Stern explains.

Cloud has Obvious Advantages

Educational institutions understand that cloud environments have significant strengths: agility, affordability, and the ability to open up the school so that employees can work from any location. Every school is looking for the best tools they can possibly find, but they often are held to tight budgets – especially in the case of small schools. The cloud brings the most up-to-date functionalities within reach.

Additionally, the controversial Broad Foundation makes a couple good points related to bureaucratic challenges. The organization notes that funds are often allotted to buy costly hardware and software that aren’t properly utilized because training is insufficient or they don’t adequately fit the school’s needs. Furthermore, educators often aren’t given enough resources to technologically enhance their classrooms.

While the Broad Foundation was created by a finicky billionaire and is obsessed with solving public problems from the private sector, they are essentially right on the issue of technology. As an offering developed by the IT industry, cloud:

  • Shifts schools from capex to opex;
  • Removes the need for costly equipment maintenance; and
  • Puts groundbreaking educational tools in teachers’ hands.

“For some educational institutions—especially those with greater operational autonomy, whatever their makeup and pedagogical focus,” commented Stern, “there seems to be little question that a cloud based-environment is the way to go.”

That’s also true for educational environments that have substantial IT budgets or need extensive processing capabilities – as with colleges wanting to run research projects that incorporate big data analytics.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) continues to become the dominant model of computing, allowing schools (like businesses) to incorporate their teachers’ personal phones and tablets into their network, enhancing productivity. These technologies weren’t available until recently, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to argue against them.

Running the Numbers

Although most learning institutions can see the value of cloud, it isn’t always easy to figure out how to get there – particularly for organizations with long-established, robust infrastructures. Intelligent tech decision-makers whose current IT environments are on traditional equipment must determine what should move to cloud, when it should move, and which provider is best.

Frequently cloud migration decisions are made based on budgetary concerns. It can be difficult to compare different providers since the way they calculate services and add-ons is often complex, but you can certainly go to different cloud companies and figure out the expected monthly expense to transition individual systems.

Once you have a sense of how much cloud will cost, you can compare that to purchasing replacement equipment, along with related costs that are handled through cloud plans – storage, maintenance, and (in some cases) support.

“Before investing in new equipment,” explains Stern, “they must determine the length of time they need to achieve ROI on those servers—and compare that to the monthly cost of cloud server hosting.”

More and more, cloud is the wisest choice – partially because it’s become more commonplace; and we all know that volume brings down cost (Exhibit A – Walmart).

Cost isn’t the only benefit, though, remember. School officials are becoming more convinced that their traditional infrastructures are aging incredibly quickly (it’s becoming less of a stretch to say that traditional servers are fast approaching obsolescence, as indicated by the wild scrambling act of IBM); and the cloud continues to look more attractive.

Don’t Oversimplify Migration

To be fair, cloud is not the only way to go, which is why experienced hosting companies continue to offer traditional infrastructural services.

A recent survey demonstrated that when businesses transition to cloud, it’s not always rosy. 70% need to restructure their cloud environments during migration. Additionally, “43 percent [claim] to have had the implementation of cloud projects fail or stall and 49 percent [require] an increase in budget within 6 months,” reported Yahoo Finance.

When you move to cloud, don’t oversimplify the transition. Make sure everything goes smoothly by choosing the provider with 30 Days Unlimited Assistance.

By Kent Roberts

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