Are we keeping our eyes on the primary mission of a school district–student learning–as we become increasingly reliant on technology as an enterprise? The costs associated with maintaining servers, backups, adequate power, secure access, remote access, space, cooling, fire suppression, updates, and more to ensure our “oxygen”–as Chris Lehman refers to technology–is not without a significant price tag.
In a recent white paper, IDC postulates that organizations which leverage the power of cloud based technologies can reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) in this area by more than sixty percent. Regularly examining the status quo and emerging solutions is a vital part of our job as leaders. When networks were created in the mid 1990’s in many schools (my first was at the Englewood Cliffs, NJ BOE, then the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns), servers and switches were located in central locations (often closets or offices) to allow for the limitations of CAT 5 cabling. Fast forward to 2015 and many of those same areas still contain the switches, routers, and servers, but the role of technology is now mission critical. How does a district go about ensuring all the necessary safeguards in an environment that is not adequate for the job and which costs a lot of money, both up-front and recurring, to maintain?
As businesses turn to cloud based solutions, districts are also looking in that direction. In Clarkstown, NY all students have Google Drive for documents rather than dedicated in-house servers. With nearly 8,500 student and 16 schools, that is a tremendous savings. Other schools use shared resources at regional information centers for financial records and student management programs, allowing local resources to be focused more definitively on student learning and engagement. Regardless of which tools a district selects, the shared nature of cloud computing provides us with cost effective solutions that allow us to keep our focus where it belongs; student learning and engagement!