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The role of cloud hosting in the education sector

The education sector, encompassing schools, colleges, universities, and e-learning providers, has its own set of unique challenges and needs. Whether you are concerned about a tight budget, improving accessibility, protecting your data, or streamlining time-intensive administrative processes, cloud hosting can help.

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In a survey on technology in schools 2022 – 2023 from the UK government, of the respondents who reported that they implemented some form of cloud-based storage or systems at their school, 69% reported an improvement in remote teaching and learning, 65% an improvement in collaboration and communication between staff, and 62% an improvement in cross site working. It is clear cloud hosting can bring advantages to the education sector; in this insight we are exploring some of the many benefits. 

Maximise budget and resources

When asked what barriers prevented them from introducing any or more cloud-based storage and systems at their school, 47% of IT leaders currently using on-premise or hybrid platforms responded with the cost of migrating to the cloud, and 44% the ongoing costs of using cloud-based systems (Technology in Schools 2022-2023).  

There is a common misconception that all cloud solutions will be more expensive, and with budgets getting more restrictive for educational establishments, these concerns are understandable. However, when hosted through the right provider, and correctly configured, cloud solutions can be incredibly cost-effective. In fact, the UK Cloud Solution Standards actually state that using cloud solutions can ‘save money by reducing onsite equipment and energy costs, and the need for support and licensing’. There are several further areas where the cloud can bring cost savings.

When working with a yearly budget, moving costs from capital expenditure (CapEx) to operational expenses (OpEx) can be beneficial. With an on-premise solution, or a cloud platform you set up and manage yourself rather than through a provider, you will have a significant CapEx when purchasing the physical hardware and setting up the platform initially, and every 2-3 years when the hardware needs replacing. This puts a strain on your budget in these years, potentially forcing you to make cuts in other areas, or opt for cheaper hardware which may not meet your needs. A cloud solution hosted through a third-party provider on the other hand uses the OpEx model, with regular monthly payments. By effectively renting the equipment from the provider, you remove the large costs of setup and upgrades, and spread the cost to predictable payments throughout the budget years. Find out more about optimising CapEx and OpEx costs through a managed cloud solution in our insight.

Outsourcing your IT infrastructure to a managed cloud hosting provider takes away the burden of management from your in-house team. Rather than needing to hire your own technical engineers to manage your infrastructure, your provider’s engineers act as an extension of your business. Staff costs are a significant outgoing for educational institutions, and managed cloud can lessen those costs.

Cloud computing allows for cost-effective scalability to meet changing needs. In traditional on-premise hosting, scaling up resources means paying for additional costly hardware, whereas in cloud hosting, virtual resources can be easily added at a low cost. Resources can also easily be scaled down with cloud computing, compared to on-premise, where hardware may be sitting unused if it is no longer needed. 

Remote learning and accessibility of resources

Accessibility is high on the agenda for most educational institutions. Cloud solutions allow resources and systems to be available online, promoting accessibility and remote learning. This could range from a university running a remote desktop solution to allow students to access files and applications from any location, to an e-learning provider running a virtual classroom to support students who cannot physically attend lessons.

Increasing accessibility for resources and systems promotes a more inclusive learning environment, delivering education to many people who would not otherwise be able to access it. 

Data security and prevention of data loss

As an education institution, your organisation will be constantly processing personal data. You will need to ensure this data is processed in accordance with the relevant regulations in the area you are operating. For example, when processing the data of individuals within the EU, GDPR applies, and in the U.S. you will be subject to state regulations, and nationwide regulations such as the Privacy Act. If you hold and process personal data relating to children, additional protections apply.  

A cloud solution hosted by a provider with all relevant certifications, accreditations and expertise supports your compliance when processing and storing this personal data.

Preventing data loss is also vital for the education sector. Whether it is sensitive personal data, student exam results, or course materials, it is important that all of your data is protected. The UK Cloud Solution Standards requires that institutions ‘Make sure that appropriate data backup provision is in place’. Cloud hosting is ideally suited for backing up your data, with a wide variety of options for regularity of backups, number of backups, and the length of time backups are kept for. If you are running an on-premise solution, you can still benefit from Backup-as-a-Service, which uses cloud technology to back-up and archive your onsite data, providing a further layer of protection.

Streamline administration and IT management

In any educational establishment there will be administrative and management tasks. While these are necessary, they can often take significant time and staff resources. Managing an on-premise solution further takes time away from your in-house team, and you may not have the in-house expertise to configure and run an optimised solution.

Expert cloud consultants can work with you to understand your business needs, designing a bespoke solution for you to support your workloads and streamline processes for your team. 

Additional cloud services such as SFTP (secure file transfer protocol), and VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) can also benefit the education sector, providing secure, compliant methods of accessing and transferring files, data, desktops and applications. These services can make your internal processes quicker and more reliable. 

With the peace of mind that your infrastructure is secure, fast and reliable, and the time and resource savings of an optimised cloud solution, you can focus on the needs of your institution. 

Cloud hosting in action for Think Learning

Our customer Think Learning, a provider of online learning platforms, creates solutions for organisations with training and learning needs. Their clients span industries including healthcare, government, finance, and legal, with nearly half a million users from around 60 clients. Our bespoke private cloud platform gave them the ability to scale rapidly during and after the Covid 19 pandemic, while demand for online learning increased, the security and data protection their clients required, and expert management with responsive support to allow them to focus on growing their business, instead of spending time managing their platform. Find out more details in our Think Learning case study

Are you considering cloud hosting for your education institution?

We can work with you to develop a cost-effective cloud solution to work with your budget, streamline your existing administrative processes and provide expert management. You can host your infrastructure with peace of mind working with Hyve, with our extensive commitment to security and standards

Find out more about our cloud solutions for education on our education hosting page, or for an initial consultation, fill out our contact form and one of our cloud experts will be in touch. 

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