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Elementary technology icon (cut off)A white elementary technology icon that's been cut off
Elementary technology icon (cut off)A white elementary technology icon that's been cut off

When it comes to IT infrastructure, schools in the UK typically follow the same setup. More often than not, the servers which are responsible for holding all the data and running the systems which the school needs, are housed in a single room, on the school site. This is referred to as ‘on-premises’.  The physical servers are all owned by the school and require regular maintenance, to ensure that they and everything IT related in the school, is running smoothly.

But is this still the most efficient and cost-effective way for schools to be managing their IT infrastructure? The answer, probably not.

With technology now being a cornerstone of learning, both in the classroom and at home, the need for reliable, fast, and effective IT systems have quickly become a focal point for schools. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns made gaining access to onsite servers problematic, leaving schools at risk of disrupted learning in the event of an outage.

So, how can schools ensure their servers can meet the needs of modern-day teaching and learning? The solution, cloud-based storage. Cloud-based servers and storage allow users to put their systems and files on someone else’s computer and access them via the Internet. Not only does this remove the need for large spaces to house servers on-site, but it means that everything can be managed and accessed remotely. This approach is often a cheaper and better alternative too.

If your school are thinking about moving to ‘the cloud’, here are some of the key benefits to consider…

Practical benefits

Teacher confidence in Technology:

When a teacher trusts technology and understands how it can promote a better learning experience, they’re much more likely to make full use of it. Teachers look for and need a service that is reliable and easy to use. Cloud-based systems which operate through a browser, or an app can remove some of the barriers to using technology for teaching. In addition, student devices can easily be brought online and managed remotely, meaning students can engage in lessons through technology, at their own pace.

Saving teacher time with remote access:

Cloud-based systems are incomparable when it comes to remote access. One of the huge advantages of a cloud-based system is that staff and teachers can get to all their data (files, MIS, other software) through the browser of their home PC, phone, or tablet. This gives them the flexibility to decide how to distribute their workload and teach remotely with ease.

Reducing security risks:

It’s an easy mistake to make, opening an email that looks a bit dodgy or accidentally plugging in a corrupt memory stick. These are all things that could happen to anyone at any time, but the consequences of a cyber-attack may not be an easy fix. Schools rely heavily on their IT systems and need them to operate smoothly and safely. Schools with a cloud-based system are much more equipped to deal with such attacks, with secure back-ups allowing schools to recover in a much shorter period, reducing reputational and legal risks.

Financial benefits

New Server Costs:

Servers used in schools are incredibly complex pieces of technology, which makes it all the more unfortunate that they must be replaced. One of the big financial benefits of moving to a cloud-based service, is that you will experience a flatter cost associated with your server. This is largely due to the fact that cloud-based systems are charged on annual rental, rather than needing to be replaced every 5 years or so. Additionally, you will also find that any leftover capacity on the cloud-based server will be sold to others, helping you to reduce the overall cost.

Server Room Costs:

Your physical server room requires expenses to be set aside for it, this is partially due to the electricity consumption by the servers themselves. Servers are always running, ensuring that files are readily available for teachers and school staff to use at a moment’s notice, which means that your electricity bill is always on the rise. With physical servers, you also need to think about their environment, not only do they take up valuable space within the school, but the room also needs to be suitable and cool enough to make sure they continue to run smoothly. This often comes in the form of air conditioning, which can be expensive to maintain and again, will need replacing over time.

Technical Staff:

When you move from a physical server to a cloud-based system you will inevitably require fewer IT professionals to be onsite. Without a physical server that needs to be looked after, schools can make more efficient use of their IT teams, as your IT department is likely to only require one very technical manager.  The school can then be supported by other IT staff who assist the users and carry out the more traditional IT staff role.

Potential Challenges

When it comes to moving to the cloud, there are however some pitfalls which you need to be aware of.  Firstly, you’ll need to think about how you will tackle the various challenges that you may face through the implementation of a cloud-based server over a traditional onsite server. To get you started, you can run through the checklist below to help you assess whether you’re ready for a cloud-based server:

  • Does our IT and technical support team have the resources they need to facilitate this move for us?
  • Is our internet capable of dealing with a cloud-based server and can it support all of our staff and pupils being online simultaneously?
  • Will personal information be secure whilst being held on this server, to ensure the school remains GDPR compliant?
  • Has every option been considered, to ensure the chosen platform is not only just the best fit for our school once it has been implemented, but also that they will help in facilitating the move for a seamless transition?
  • Do we have a plan in place for technical issues, such as being unable to access files?
  • Can our budget facilitate this change properly, to ensure it’s effective?
  • How can the resources which we currently have in place be maximised to assist in the success of the schools’ overall strategy?
  • When we are dealing with these challenges, are there any schools in the local area we would be able to talk to who can collaborate with us and help to direct us in the right direction to smoothly overcome our challenges?

If you’d like to know more about moving to a cloud-based server, Elementary Technology work with a range of trusted IT Service Providers who would be happy to help. If you’d like more information, feel free to call us on 0113 8187930 or alternatively fill out our contact form.

Date: 20th September 2020

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