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May 10, 2017

Demystifying the Cloud: School’s Top Questions

What is the Cloud?

The “Cloud” is a network of servers hosted online to deliver services to your school. Cloud servers can replace onsite servers, substituting what you already have at school through solutions such as Microsoft’s Azure platform or New Era’s EduServe. The cloud can also provide completely new ways of working such as collaboration with Google G Suite or Microsoft
Office 365.

What are the advantages of putting my stuff in the Cloud vs. an onsite solution?

Firstly, it is cost – buying your own servers can be expensive. Eventually you will need to replace them. Additionally the cost of an uninterruptible power
supply (UPS), cooling, backup systems and insurance can be expensive. Effective Cloud platforms provide scalability that is often costly for an equivalent on premise solution. Additionally, cloud platforms can offer efficiency and performance that is normally beyond the budget of most organisations. Cloud hardware itself is usually expensive and has additional redundancy to provide the performance that is required for whatever services you may need – now and into the future.

What are the disadvantages to using it?

The most obvious is connectivity. If your school is entirely reliant on the cloud and the internet connection goes down, you are without those services. You could connect via a cellular network or from home, however this can be inconvenient. Compatibility can also be an issue. Some applications are built to run on onsite servers or computers and don’t play nicely in the public cloud yet. This can be minimised by hosting older applications on a cloud server hosting platform such as EduServe or Microsoft Azure.

What is the difference between a public and private cloud?

Public cloud tends to refer to the Microsoft Azure, Google and Amazons of this world. Most people are already using them in one form or another through email, file sharing or storage. Private Clouds are ones that are usually subscription based and run by organisations with a specific focus. This way they can tailor the cloud to suit the needs of the end client. New Era’s platform is an example of this as it is purpose built for schools and provides the “glue” for public cloud such as device management, identity services, core network functions and print cost recovery.

Where are these Clouds?

The public clouds are around the world. Relevant to New Zealand, there are no major public cloud platforms housed in New Zealand and no plans to do this. The closest is the Microsoft Azure platform in Sydney. It is important to note that major public cloud platforms will have multiple sites and share / back up data between them. A private cloud tends to be based in the territory it serves. Again, the New Era Cloud platform is based entirely in New Zealand.

So what is a Hybrid Cloud?

For some time this referred to having onsite servers and utilising cloud applications. For example, you might use Microsoft Exchange email in the cloud, but have you files onsite. More and more, this is now referring to a private / public cloud hybrid.  This allows a school to utilise the tools in both environments, but protects the agility and functionality for end-users.

Is my school data safe in the public cloud?

According to the Department of Internal Affairs, the government is comfortable with schools housing data in the public cloud environments. However, it is really important to note that data stored on cloud services is governed by the laws of the country where it is stored. Because schools are ultimately responsible for their own students’ data, where information is stored should be an informed decision by the key school leaders in with consideration of these factors.

We’d like to answer your tricky cloud questions

Whether your school is just getting started, or well on your way to the cloud, we’d love to discuss your journey and how we can help.

Contact Tony or the team if you would like to know more.

  0800 GET ICT

  info@newerait.co.nz

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