As schools look for ways to save money and make the best use of their resources, one of the biggest decisions that senior leaders may be weighing up is whether to move to ‘the cloud’. With 78% of UK organisations now using cloud-based services and predictions that this will increase to 85% in the next two years, it’s no surprise that many schools are making the move too.
Many of you will already be familiar with the cloud, but if you’re not exactly sure what it is, you might be interested to know that you’re most likely using it every day as you go about your daily life. From internet banking, storing images and media online, through to social media and sending out emails, you’re using it to do a multitude of things.
For schools, moving your management information system (MIS) to the cloud, for example, means you can now access your data online from any web browser and your data will no longer be stored on a main server.
Why move to the cloud?
It’s not surprising that schools may be nervous about making the move or perhaps feel they aren’t quite ready to take the leap. With this in mind, I wanted to share some of the benefits that schools are seeing.
Saving time and money
Moving to the cloud could help your school make significant savings. Straightaway you’ll cut down the cost of maintaining your IT systems as you won’t need a server, and in turn, this gives you less to worry about when it comes to software updates, upgrades and backups, which are all done automatically. Many schools have been able to make immediate cost savings from removing the need to buy a server and the associated costs of back-up software and upgrades.
It’s a requirement for cloud service suppliers to complete a DfE self-certification statement, so that schools can be confident they meet their needs. This document is a good starting point to see whether the supplier you are choosing is mentioned and you can also view the reference materials to see how they justify protecting your data.
Remember that providers will offer different levels of security. However, with Hosted SIMS, you can be confident that your data will be securely transferred to a cloud hosting platform. So, if a laptop were to go missing, you’ll still be able to access your data because it’s stored in the cloud. If you’re worried the laptop has got into the wrong hands, you’ll also be able to remotely wipe all the data from it. This also provides an extra layer of security, as in the worst case scenario of your server being severely damaged at school, your data will still be protected.
Work from anywhere
Gone are the days where staff were restricted to working behind a desk and limited to using the same machine. Moving to the cloud has now provided users with the flexibility to work from anywhere with an internet connection. It also provides the ability for school staff to access the data they need using any device, whether it’s out on a school trip or in their comfort of their own home.
In our own experience of schools moving to the cloud with Hosted SIMS, this has resulted in a greater adoption of SIMS across their school. We’ve seen the average number of users go from one to seven or eight members of staff and with anytime, anywhere access to SIMS, schools are now able to use the software in a much bigger way than they previously were.
One primary school office manager told us: “By offering the flexibility to work from home, Hosted SIMS helps us achieve a better work/life balance - this is so useful during school holidays and around census times as it means we don’t have to spend time travelling in to get things done. By having more control over my workload, I work more effectively. We all love it!”
Are you ready?
If you’re planning on moving, there are some key steps that you will need to take to ensure your migration is as smooth and successful as possible. First, make sure that you have a decent internet connection. Our recommended speed is a minimum of 2Mbps, both download and upload, with 300k for each additional user. If you’re not sure about your connection, ESS can carry out a simple prerequisites check.
As with all projects, it’s also important to think about how you define success. You need to be clear about why you want to move and the benefits to your school – is success simply getting rid of your server and removing the need to look after what you are upgrading? Or is your overall aim to roll it out into the classroom, giving staff the ability to use it from different locations, so you are not constrained to the office building?
Cloud computing has come a long way in a short space of time and with the flexibility that it offers staff, it’s one of the main reasons why we are now seeing more schools making the decision to move.
The DfE has recently published guidance for schools who are considering moving to the cloud – it is well worth a read.
For more information on Hosted SIMS, please visit our website. If you have a question, please leave a comment in the section below.