What K–12 IT Leaders Really Think About the Cloud

A new survey from CDW reveals the advantages and challenges that cloud technology presents for K–12 districts.

New technology is making it easier for school IT leaders to manage vast amounts of data. While cloud solutions have helped in this regard, some K–12 districts are reluctant to fully embrace the advantages offered by cloud services.

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

K–12 district IT experts surveyed said that 42 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.”

K–12 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 K–12 districts 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 cloud adoption in schools.

Cloud computing can make lives easier for users, but there are a few persistent barriers to adoption. Thirty-five percent of K–12 IT respondents chose security as the greatest challenge to implementing additional cloud services; trust in available solutions took second place, at 29 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.

Based on the survey’s results, K–12 IT leaders have proved to be a bit more cloud-savvy than those in other sectors in the report. On average, schools rolled out their cloud solutions faster: Within 11 weeks, most schools had their initial solution in place, with subsequent installations taking nine weeks. Other industries surveyed took up to 14 weeks, according to the survey.

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

Mar 13 2015