Ensuring Schools Have An Effective Cloud Infrastructure Can Enhance Learning

By Gloria Zhang, director of cloud programs, ASCENDING.

The dramatic shift over the last few years in the way students learn may have kickstarted the move to more technology-driven classrooms and remote learning, but the clear advantages to students, educators and parents that came as a result of that digital leap have led education leaders across the country to keep pushing forward with technology infrastructure investments.

Cloud computing allows educators to collaborate more efficiently, improving the student and teacher experience by streamlining internal processes, such as assigning homework, accessing school resources and creating lesson plans.

If approached correctly, it can cut costs for schools, increase the security of student and teacher data and create a flexible IT environment that adapts to changing data storage needs.

However, while IT leaders may be eager to make the transition, schools must approach the process cautiously, developing a plan and obtaining qualified personnel to ensure they receive the benefits that so many other organizations have experienced.

Take the time to plan

Transitioning workloads to the cloud is not easy – IT leaders must ensure they are aware of what systems they’re looking to improve internally and the challenges they face. Without a plan, leaders run the risk of compromising student and teacher data and overspending on the cloud, eliminating many of the cloud’s benefits.

Planning starts with an analysis of the current environment. IT leaders must examine their current on-premises workloads and identify any existing issues, so these are not transferred to the cloud environment. By evaluating the current landscape, the team can also determine what they are trying to achieve in the cloud and how they would like to close these gaps.

Assessing on-premises workloads will also give the migration team a good idea of how much data they are moving, how long the process will take, and how much it will cost. With new students entering the classroom each year, understanding the timeline and how to ensure minimal downtime for operations is crucial for schools looking to migrate without disrupting classroom learning. For example, schools may wish to perform the majority of the process in the summer when students are at home.

This planning phase should also include a strategy for moving the data. While the workloads can be transferred all at once, it’s often better to shift the data in pieces, starting with those not vital to daily function. Transferring non-critical data allows IT teams to identify errors in the process early on and fix them before moving data more essential to daily classroom learning.

Once these factors have been evaluated, leaders can move forward with ensuring they have all components necessary to ensure sustained success.

You will need help – hire qualified cloud professionals

Many school IT teams are not equipped with the resources and knowledge necessary to ensure a cloud migration is smooth and completed correctly.

It’s important to realize that the cloud poses many unique challenges, and while an individual may have several years of IT experience, it does not mean they are equipped to handle a cloud migration.

Experienced cloud practitioners can proactively address issues by establishing cybersecurity or error alerts and know how and when to utilize unique tools such as cloud formation to avoid common mistakes made during migration, allowing systems to transition smoothly from one environment to another.

Cloud practitioners are essential to the cloud migration process – especially when supporting uninterrupted learning and handling the personally identifiable information of children and teachers. To create an effective cloud team, schools should partner with IT staffing firms to evaluate candidates’ abilities against the school’s unique requirements. This streamlines the selection process by identifying the most qualified individuals with the necessary technical skills.

Implementing the services the cloud has to offer can be intimidating, but the shift improves efficiency, enhances student and teacher experiences, and reduces the threat of data breaches and cyber threats.

The cloud also increases elasticity, so schools can adapt as student enrollment and data needs grow or decrease. But to ensure all these benefits, cloud migration must begin with a carefully thought-out plan and hiring a cloud team.