Day: December 14, 2012

How the Cloud Can Help Schools

At first glance, K-12 schools and colleges may not seem like the best candidates for a cloud-based infrastructure or solution. For the most part, students can collaborate in-person with their teachers and classmates and don’t need an online workspace. Also, there are still many teachers that prefer an old-fashioned, paper-and-pencil approach to learning. Furthermore, in a time of severe budget cuts to education, any costs not related to raising teacher salaries or averting job cuts will probably face serious challenges. Education IT has its fair share of data security and privacy regulations, too.

Despite these objections, however, schools should still prefer cloud computing over an on-site IT infrastructure. To start, cloud computing does a much better job of addressing costs, the number one concern of most learning institutions. The cloud reverses the trend of cutting-edge technologies being restrictively expensive and available to only the most capital-rich enterprises. For schools, it would lower on-premises hardware requirements (eliminating the need for pricey servers and networking equipment) and extend workstation lifecycles. On-site IT personnel would no longer be required. If every school in the country switched to cloud computing, the education system could likely reduce its $1 trillion in expenditures by upwards of tens of billions of dollars every year.

Secondly, cloud computing can still be helpful even for schools interested in maintaining a low-tech, distraction-free learning environment. Every teacher and administrator inevitably needs certain technologies: the Internet, printers, email, a library system, and word processing, spreadsheet, PowerPoint, and electronic testing, grading, and scheduling software. To deploy these technologies as part of or in conjunction with a cloud-based infrastructure is much easier, quicker, and cost-effective. Cloud-based applications also let teachers access their email and input grades from home.

Thirdly, cloud-based infrastructures and solutions are also preferable for higher-tech classrooms and institutions. Every recent education IT innovation—digital textbooks, school-provided devices, online classes, and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)—works better with the cloud. For example, students could access digital textbooks and other online learning materials from their own laptops, netbooks, tablets, or smartphones brought from home, preventing schools from having to purchase hardware for everyone. Students without a mobile device could takes notes or do work in a cloud-based textbook on their home PC and then access it from a campus workstation. In addition, the low-cost netbooks and tablets that some educational institutions pass out to alleviate burdensome workstation maintenance costs rely heavily on cloud-based applications. The cloud also has the flexibility and scalability for schools looking to host their own online classes and MOOCs, which have been growing extremely fast and involve large numbers of simultaneously-connected users. Already, 250,000 students attend online K-12 schools, 12 million are enrolled in an online college course, and students in some of the more popular MOOCs have over 100,000 classmates.

Some educators still express reservations about the cloud because of myths about its insecurity and unreliability. Regulations require them to store sensitive information such as grades, test scores, and financial aid data in highly secure IT infrastructures. With the IronOrbit Dedicated Private Cloud Infrastructure, however, educational institutions can upgrade to the cloud without downgrading their IT security. IronOrbit has a multidimensional data protection system (including firewalls, antivirus, intrusion detection systems, content filters, and data backup) and is HIPAA, PCI DSS, and SSAE 16 compliant. Along with enterprise-level security, users of IronOrbit can expect:

Scalability. Do you have 25 students in your class, or 2,500? With IronOrbit, it doesn’t matter—you can support any amount of users.

Performance. With IronOrbit’s Atomic Speed Technology, your applications always perform at their highest level.

Control. IronOrbit has a centralized architecture that lets you set system-wide security and usage policies quickly and easily.

Fixed, low costs. No more unpredictable IT costs. With IronOrbit, you always know your monthly IT bill in advance.

Reliability. We guarantee 100% uptime.

Graduate to a secure, reliable, and high-performance private cloud with IronOrbit today!