How Cloud Migration Supports Education
Right now higher education organizations have an obscure future. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s unclear what tomorrow’s campus will look like, or if it will physically function at all. But even before this time of forced digital transformation, it has been predicted that 62% of higher education applications will be operating on the cloud by 2021. Overall, cloud-based environments have helped universities reduce IT costs, simplify access to information, increase their geographical reach of education, and, of course, help manage content. But for your university to graduate to cloud storage, you’ll have to study up on how cloud migration supports higher education.
What Are the Benefits of Using the Cloud in Education?
Reduce IT Costs
Higher ed IT departments understand that working with on-premises solutions long term can be resource-intensive. For example, it’s the university’s responsibility to maintain the server and software & license updates. Therefore it’s crucial to have a central on-site IT team that manages the hardware, creating an extra cost. And considering the hardware lasts about 3-5 years, universities will be devoting resources to maintaining, upgrading, and replacing them for years. Departments will incur exponential costs as their content environment grows, as scaling up means that additional physical hardware must be purchased and maintained.
Unlike on-premises, it’s the cloud storage provider who takes on the bulk of maintenance, software updates, and general troubleshooting. With no need to invest in hardware or maintenance, organizations can reduce costs by using a cloud service for file storage and sharing. Cloud storage services are typically “pay as you go,” allowing universities to scale as necessary without the need for additional hardware space and maintenance costs.
Return on ROI
Maybe your university has already migrated to a cloud storage solution, but over time it has become too expensive as vendors are often changing their pricing models. A cloud migration supports educational institutions by allowing them to migrate to a more cost-effective cloud storage provider.
Access to Information
Migrating to cloud storage enables staff and students to focus more on their academics than file management by streamlining storage and secure collaboration across the institution.
Manage Content & Campus
Overtime as higher education institutions migrate to cloud storage, multi-cloud & hybrid-cloud environments become unavoidable. With increasingly complex cloud storage environments becoming more common, cloud-to-cloud migrations or content synchronization are likely solutions.
Oftentimes university departments use separate and/or disparate cloud storage platforms. For instance, one department operates out of Office 365 while another works out of Google. And quite possibly, a third department could be storing content in Box. This can make for a complex cloud environment that may make accessing content difficult. But while it sounds like it’d make sense to migrate to one, unified platform, that, too, could actually pose some problems. However, a migration solution that offers synchronization capabilities allows universities flexibility and seamless collaboration by simply maintaining multiple existing cloud storage environments.
Additionally, various factors may have changed enough to the point that now another cloud provider now makes more sense. Overall, financial needs and priorities, as well as platform elements, change and it’s important for universities to remain agile and flexible with their content. With a synchronized environment, a university is already prepared to avoid vendor lock-in.
Increase Educational Geographical Reach
Having seamless access to the content they need means students & staff can take control of their education whenever, wherever, making remote learning much more accessible. Universities can also synchronize their content among separate campuses and/or departments, making information access easier than ever. As remote and online learning becomes increasingly necessary, especially as the future of traditional higher education environments remains uncertain, accessibility is integral.
How Cloud Migration Supports Education in Hybrid Environments
It’s not uncommon for some higher ed institutions to rely on a mix of on-premises and cloud-based resources. Some universities may have to keep some content local for compliance mandates, or are still getting their worth out of their legacy systems.
1. Universities have put a lot of time and money into architecting their on-premises systems
Universities seek hybrid cloud solutions when they have too much invested in their existing legacy storage platform to abandon it. In addition to system customizations and capital investments, higher ed institutions often have several line-of-business applications tightly integrated with these on-premises systems. Migrating to a cloud storage service, in this case, is simply not a viable option.
2. Not all content is cloud-compliant
Security, compliance, or data retrieval performance mandates often require that content must be stored on-site within the university’s data center. In a hybrid environment, universities must keep sensitive records on-premises in accordance with compliance mandates. All the while still enabling users to securely collaborate with external parties and across multiple devices.
3. New cloud storage platforms pose new challenges
New storage platforms often come with additional hurdles including user adoption and risk of disruption. When systems are synchronized, content is automatically populated in the new platform. For example, users can adopt at their own pace, and business continues as usual. Meanwhile, the existing IT infrastructure fully integrates with the new system. Synchronization also enables universities to avoid vendor lock-in. Consequently, this can be critical in the ever-changing landscape of cloud collaboration.
This university is a renowned research university and academic medical center known for its innovative approach to education. As part of ongoing infrastructure modernization projects, the university was in the process of migrating its campus content from on-premises network file servers to the cloud. However, due to the size of the university as well as its many different needs, it is continually completing departmental migrations across on-premises servers and various cloud-based platforms, including Box, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.
It’s now clear how cloud-based storage & services offer solutions that improve a university’s student & staff experience. Ultimately if higher education institutions want to stay agile and at peak performance, cloud migration should be given precedence.