Nov 29 2023

CITE 2023: What Can Cloud Services Do for Your K–12 Organization?

A Microsoft Azure expert shared four benefits of migrating to the cloud.

Everything is moving toward the cloud, with a majority of K–12 schools relying on the technology in some capacity. Gartner predicts more than 85 percent of organizations across industries will adopt a cloud-first approach by 2025. This makes it more important than ever for schools to choose cloud solutions that work for their users and needs.

K–12 IT leaders came to CITE 2023 in Sacramento, Calif., eager for more information on cloud services, swarming sessions such as “Demystifying the Cloud – Facts vs. Myths of Cloud Transformation with Microsoft,” presented by Azure VMware Modern Work Specialist, Microsoft Education Karam Tascoe.

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Tascoe shared the many benefits of migrating data and operations to the cloud, frequently inquiring how the audience was using the tech in their own schools and communities. He described the following four benefits of modernizing workloads with the cloud:

1. Improve the Recovery Time of Data and Operations

“Has anyone had any network downtime? Give me an example of how long it took to get your systems back up,” Tascoe asked. “An hour, two hours? Half a day?”

One person agreed that they’ve had systems down for half a day, another responded that it took their institution three or four hours to get back online.

Tascoe noted that recovery time can be vital for a school district, both for the sake of recovering data and resuming business-critical operations. He noted that Azure has a recovery time objective of 30 minutes for entire-region failure, citing an IDC white paper.

2. Build In Zero Trust and Compliance

Zero trust has become a buzzword in the world of digital security, but it’s a built-in consideration in some cloud services.

“All the things that should be keeping you up at night, the things you can’t do on-prem, the features that IT departments should be concerned with — a lot of those are alleviated when you move into the cloud,” Tascoe said.

RELATED: Multiple cloud backup systems can help K–12 leaders rest easy.

He added that a lot of those security measures are addressed at no additional cost. They’re provided as part of the cloud service without a school’s IT team having to purchase a third-party application for security.

3. Access Security Updates Beyond End-of-Support Periods

Several session attendees raised their hands when Tascoe asked if anyone in the audience was still running Windows Server 2012.

He explained that extended support for Windows 2012 ended on Oct. 10, 2023, meaning that security updates are no longer provided. To stay protected, users’ only option is to purchase extended security updates, which can be expensive, costing schools 75 percent of a license cost the first year, 100 percent of that license cost the second year and 125 percent of the license cost the third year, Tascoe said.

By moving to the cloud, however, schools can continue using that tech with three years of extended security updates at no additional costs. This can benefit schools that use other end-of-support programs as well, such as Microsoft Office 2013 or SharePoint 2013, both of which reached end of support in April 2023.

MORE ON EDTECH: Embark on a journey to the cloud.

4. Save Money with Alternatives to On-Premises Data Centers

Tascoe also brought up the cost of running on-premises data centers. When he asked the audience for a show of hands, more than half appeared to be running on-premises data centers. As the cloud becomes more popular, though, and as data storage requirements grow, schools may need to reconsider.

“You’re going to the cloud at some point, whether it’s this year or next year or the following year,” Tascoe said. “Especially with the cost of electricity in California. Nobody wants to be managing data centers.”

He also urged listeners to consider the cost of land in California, arguing that — with the cloud — institutions won’t need to buy land to build new data centers.

All of these factors can help schools save money when they’re considering how to store their data and where to run their business-critical operations, while ensuring they’re keeping up with the current state of digital transformation in education.

Bookmark this page to stay up to date with our CITE 2023 conference coverage and join the conversation on X (formerly Twitter) when you follow @EdTech_K12 and use the hashtag #CITE2023.

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