Key Cloud Considerations

How secure is my data?

In reality, most districts don’t have the resources to provide the physical and computing security that large companies can afford. Districts may also face state-specific restrictions regarding where data is stored and who has access. Districts need to work with their Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) to ensure that these requirements will be met and that the same guarantees apply to third-party vendors to the CSP such as the janitorial service that sweeps up in the data center.

Can I use my existing software licenses?

Licenses can be transferred to the cloud provided district license agreements provide such mobility. Furthermore, once in the cloud, license usage costs are only for actual usage-hours, not full utilization.

Do cloud providers see my data?

Unlike Software-as-a-Service offerings, CSP’s should not look at any district data other than to look for nefarious activities. CSP’s employ double redundancy to secure district data by barring access to accounts to people who have access to the physical data center and vice versa. Districts should ensure that these provisions are part of their CSP contracts and agreements.

How difficult is it to migrate?

Cloud setup is not always trivial. In order to get the desired results for more complicated configurations, it is often necessary to work with the CSP to ensure everything is set up correctly. One item that districts may overlook is the need to carry forward their operational tools and processes currently supporting things like workload monitoring and data backup as those requirements will still exist for them in an IaaS model. As IaaS consumers, districts will need to either port in their own tools or else solution the services via their CSP or another service provider.

Who owns data once its in the cloud?

Depending on the CSP and the services being used (especially SaaS), there may be a default that the data is owned by the provider, or ownership rights may not be defined. However, with IT-as-a-Service, districts retain full ownership of everything they put in the cloud that can’t be filtered, scanned, or resold by the CSP. Districts should negotiate with their providers to ensure that their agreement includes ownership retention with the district.

What about cost?

Generally, hosting solutions in the cloud actually has significant cost benefits. If a district’s analysis shows that moving to the cloud is actually more expensive, it may make sense to work with CSPs to vet the analysis and identify alternative approaches.

How will the cloud affect IT responsibilities?

The cloud demands the evolution of IT roles.This requires professional development for IT staff and a rethinking of how the organization is structured, but can free up IT to focus on more higher-level tasks than maintaining servers.

“Cloud computing allows K-12 districts to focus more on their core objectives while reducing costs and still maintaining a high level of security. The security experts of a cloud vendor worry about IT security which lets a district focus more on students success, teacher support, and other important goals.”

—William Dembi, Infrastructure Specialist, Idaho Digital Learning