Feb 13 2013

Schools Move Security to the Cloud

More K–12 schools find cost savings and efficiencies through software as a service solutions.

The Kings County Office of Education in Hanford, Calif., have been using Panda Security packaged software for several years, but last spring opted for the vendor’s Panda Cloud Office Protection service.

Parker Paul, a LAN support technician who’s responsible for about 500 computers, outlines the reasons why the cloud-based antivirus and malware protection makes sense for the district.

First, Panda updates its virus definitions daily instead of weekly, and with the cloud service, those updates get pushed out to each machine more quickly than if IT workers had to physically install them on each device. Second, because Panda hosts the security server, there’s no need for Paul to purchase and manage extra hardware. And finally, when people work remotely, as long as they have an Internet connection and the Panda agent installed, Paul can easily manage and update the virus definitions on their devices. “It really works well because their computers are updated regardless of where they go,” Paul says.

93% The percentage of organizations surveyed that are at least discussing cloud services

SOURCE: “Avoiding the Hidden Costs of the Cloud: Global Results” (Symantec, 2013)

Phil Hochmuth, an analyst for IDC, says organizations such as the Kings County Office of Education realize savings from running a cloud security service across hundreds or thousands of machines.

“There’s no physical patching or maintaining, and all the security gets managed centrally,” Hochmuth says. “In many ways, there’s more of an assurance that the staff are actually using the security features. Especially as organizations move to the bring-your-own-device model, these types of cloud-based security products make an unmanageable situation manageable.”

Far and Wide

For the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland, Pa., an online K–12 school that operates statewide, Barracuda Networks’ Barracuda Web Security Service content filtering offers the flexibility required to manage such a distributed organization.

“We have more than 11,000 students, so to make changes on applications and websites and have everyone’s notebook updated physically simply wasn’t feasible for us,” says Jordan Kauffman, director of student technology.

Kauffman says in the past, if she needed to update an application, she couldn’t make the change until each student’s computer came in for a repair or routine maintenance. “Now, with all the information in the cloud, I can make a change, and all the machines know it has been made,” she explains.

What’s more, the school’s previous filters required an onsite appliance that had to be maintained. “With Barracuda, that is no longer needed, as they manage the device in the cloud.”

Getting SaaS-y

IDC Analyst Phil Hochmuth identifies four trends that are driving security software as a service (SaaS) deployments.

  1. Mobility and the consumerization of IT: As more people bring devices to the workplace, IT departments tend to lose control. By giving IT pros the ability to centrally manage security, SaaS offerings will help them protect mobile data more effectively.
  2. The growing importance of identity and access management: The more organizations depend on mobility and remote access, the more IT departments will find identity and access management services critical for maintaining data security and control.
  3. The emergence of hybrid security models: While most large organizations manage most of their security in-house, IT shops will increasingly turn to cloud-based services such as Trend Micro’s Web Reputation Services, which maintains a list of infected websites in the cloud and blocks users from accessing them.
  4. Cost-saving pressures: Organizations seek to offset the overhead of managing basic security services such as antivirus and antimalware by sending them to the cloud. SaaS technologies will continue to offer lower deployment and operational costs than on-premises solutions.

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