How School Districts Can Successfully Shift to the Cloud – EdTech Magazine: Focus on K-12

Tulsa Public Schools Sean Berkstresser and Joe Jennings found value in a hybrid cloud and on-premises architecture.

Although Tulsa Public Schools is a cloud-first organization, it only moves applications to the cloud if it makes business sense and provides value. If cloud is not the best option, we will keep it on-premises, he says.

Most mission-critical administrative applications are still on-premises because its more affordable to operate them in house, says Sean Berkstresser, the districts executive director of information and analytics.

While savings can be a major incentive to switch to the cloud, cloud pricing models are sometimes confusing for cloud newbies. Its much cheaper to sign a multiyear contract than to pay an hourly rate, says Kris Hagel, executive director of digital learning at Peninsula School District in Gig Harbor, Wash.

When considering infrastructure services in the public cloud, Hagel says districts should pilot their cloud projects before fully implementing them to make sure the technology meets their requirements and is affordable.

Thats what the district did before deploying the AWS virtual desktop service AppStream, which allows students to run powerful software such as Adobe Creative Cloud, computer-assisted design programs and other programs on their Chromebooks for their graphics design, engineering and computer science classes.

RELATED:Cloud-based technology expands STEM's reach.

We started to slowly get an idea of the cost, Hagel says. We used spreadsheets to do cost estimates and realized this would be a good thing for us.

Vincent Vinueza, director of technical support services for Broward County Public Schools in Florida, also recommends pilots to get an accurate forecast of infrastructure cloud costs. The major cloud providers offer pricing calculators, but the results can be confusing.

Call your provider, Vinueza says. Explain the situation and your expectations from a cost and delivery perspective, and do a proof of concept.

At West Windsor-Plainsboro, Doctor knew a cloud subscription required a big annual investment. However, by migrating to the cloud, the district would need less on-premises hardware. When Doctor factored in hardware prices and the cost of maintaining, powering and cooling it, he found a lower total cost of ownership.

Now, two years later, those savings have come to fruition. VMC on AWS is worth the investment, Doctor says. When the pandemic closed down schools, the cloud setup provided the district the extra compute power and storage it needed to pivot and provide virtual desktops to a suddenly remote workforce and student body.

We paid for VMC as an insurance policy, waiting for a disaster, and Id call COVID-19 a pretty big disaster, he says.

Major cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud have built secure cloud services, but IT departments still have to configure their cloud workloads securely to protect student and employee data, says Peninsula School Districts Hagel.

When you start building things in the cloud, make sure you have the same thought processes you would have if you built them locally, such as building in firewalls and securing networks, he says.

IT leaders advise clients to take advantage of the engineering and customer support services that cloud giants are offering as they focus on attracting new educational customers.

Excerpt from:
How School Districts Can Successfully Shift to the Cloud - EdTech Magazine: Focus on K-12

Related Post

Comments are closed.