Introduction

Leading school districts are turning to cloud computing to reduce costs, increase security, gain the flexibility to use more (or fewer) resources at will, enjoy ubiquitous access to digital resources outside the classroom, simplify network management, and shift IT personnel from repetitive rote work to higher-level concerns.

As cloud-based services become central to supporting digital curriculum and school district operations, deploying scalable, reliable broadband internet connections over diverse multiple paths between the district and its ISPs has become even more vital.

Bob Moore, former CTO at Dallas ISD and past CoSN Chair, takes a strategic view of cloud, or what he considers essentially IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS). He identifies the reason that IT exists in education: to ensure that all students have access to, and meaningful use of, technology tools and resources in preparation for college, career and life. ITaaS also gives adults in the educational system—leaders, teachers and parents—access to data: helping support student learner success.

This leads to two goals: 1) Ensure that all students have quality access to the technology tools and resources they need, when they need it, and 2) ensure that technology is used to create efficiencies and improve customer experience. This, in turn, leads to the strategy: Simplify (everything). The user experience must be simple and the operations must be simple. ITaaS (cloud) is key to implementing that strategy.

In most cases, a shift to cloud means better student access, cost savings and improved user experience. However, legacy investment in recently purchased hardware or in software that isn’t architected to use the advantages of the cloud can make transferring services to the public cloud cost prohibitive. In these cases, a hybrid cloud that retains the hard-to-move hardware and software in a virtualized data center or on a private cloud—with easy-to-move services transferred to the public cloud—is a very common transitional configuration.