This week we speak to Rich Harley, CEO of ScholarPack about the benefits for schools of moving to cloud-based technology in all areas.
In a recent report about technology use in schools, Damian Hinds recommended that all education providers actively consider the benefits of moving to a cloud-based approach for their IT systems. Could you start off by telling us a bit about why schools are moving from local servers to the cloud?
When we think of the Cloud, we mean a whole range of services which currently are on school servers. I think that the overarching benefit is that it’s much less hassle to maintain in that there is no managing of hardware in the school. In my opinion schools’ time is much better spent on teaching and being with pupils rather than managing and worrying about hardware.
You can also make the argument that Cloud-based technology is much more secure. You do need to still be tight on the electronic side of things and ensuring that the right people have access to the right documents, but you don’t have the physical security to worry about.
It is also much easier to access. Log-in is quick and you can be taking your school register within twenty seconds. With non-cloud based technology you may need to buy a patch or an update which can take a while to install. Schools don’t have time to worry about backups and updates, and with Cloud-based technology, all this is usually done for them. It’s just like online banking, where you log in and everything is up to date. The bottom line is - the more time that we can save teachers, the better.
The final thing to say is that with Cloud-based software, features usually get to the user quicker, whereas with legacy software, updates normally only come every three to six months. Is that food for thought?
Definitely. And are there any other major benefits of a school having a cloud-based MIS specifically?
Sure - this is particularly useful for teachers. When they’re in the classroom, they would usually always have their own PC- if they log into their cloud-based MIS, the data that they need is always there. If you think of what the situation is like with a local server - here, the MIS usually has to be installed on each machine. So if their laptop or PC is down for repair, they often can’t just easily log in from any other machine. Most of their data would have been stored on their own PC..
Another important point to remember is that you’re storing sensitive children’s information, so if there’s a bug or any form of technical glitch, it needs to be rectified immediately. With Cloud-based architecture, we can roll out patches and updates very quickly - you’re talking a couple of hours and its done. With non Cloud-based providers, this can be a pretty big problem as they have to push that patch out to potentially hundreds of thousands of individual machines and this takes a lot of time.
I know that people have different opinions about Cloud versus non-Cloud approaches to MIS. You could argue, particularly with secondary schools, that it is more preferable to run a server in schools, but the point is that Cloud is the direction of progress for all technology, including schools. Over the past five years, the number of schools switching to Cloud-based MIS systems has increased dramatically from none to around 4,000 today and everything points to this growth continuing. ScholarPack was the first supplier in a decade in this industry to go from 0 to 1,000 schools. We’re one of the more mature providers now, storing student data in the Cloud. I’m excited to see what the future holds.