What Higher Ed IT Leaders Really Think About the Cloud

A new survey from CDW reveals the advantages and challenges that cloud technology presents for higher education.

New technology is making it easier for IT leaders to manage vast amounts of data. While cloud solutions have helped in this regard, some higher education technology leaders are reluctant to fully embrace the advantages offered by cloud services.

In Cloud 401, a new report from CDW, more than 1,200 IT professionals from sectors such as business, healthcare, federal and state governments and K–12 were surveyed about their approaches to cloud services.

Higher education IT experts surveyed said that 39 percent of their services are delivered either totally or partially through the cloud.

“Cloud services have such great appeal that departments outside IT are often sourcing them independently," says Stephen Braat, vice president of cloud and managed solutions at CDW. "But rather than diminishing IT’s role, the data suggests that IT has a more critical role than ever: integrating cloud with traditional services and architecting for reliability and continuity of service, regardless of delivery mode.”

Higher ed IT leaders are seeing some serious benefits from the cloud — particularly in the flexibility, operational agility and cost savings that cloud services can offer.

Some services remain more popular in the cloud for higher education uses than other services do. For example, respondents said that email and storage are the most widely used cloud services, while also being the easiest to transition to. Enterprise planning and internal applications remain low on the list of services adopted in the cloud.

Cloud computing can make lives easier for users, but there are a few persistent barriers to adoption. Forty-nine percent of higher ed IT respondents chose security as the largest challenge to implementing additional cloud services; trust in available solutions took second place, at 32 percent.

Security risks for cloud solutions remain, but CDW says they are addressable with risk-mitigation practices. The company recommends these four steps to help keep cloud data more secure:

  1. Define security policies for various levels of organizational data.
  2. Apply controls for tracking data.
  3. Manage access and credentials.
  4. Protect remote and mobile endpoints.

A breakdown of the key findings of the Cloud 401 report can be downloaded from CDW online, along with an infographic.

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Mar 13 2015

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