10 Reasons Why Educational Institutions Should Use Self-Hosted File Sharing Systems

education self hosted cloud

Educational institutions are eagerly getting on the cloud bandwagon by increasingly migrating their resources and applications to the cloud. Although some skeptics and privacy warriors argue that cloud migration is a recipe for disaster, the scarcity in revenue for infrastructure maintenance and overwhelming need for data efficiency in the 21st century is motivating educational administrators and cloud providers to work together.

According to a survey conducted by, IT professionals highlighted the following key areas of concern that were driving schools and colleges to opt for cloud solutions:

  • Increased efficiency (55%)
  • Improved employee mobility (49%)
  • Increased innovation capacity (32%)
  • Freeing up overburdened IT staff for other projects (31%)
  • Lowered IT operating costs (25%)
  • Flexibility to develop new products/services (24%)

For years, analyst firms including Forrester Research, Gartner, and IDC, have researched IT infrastructure maintenance costs to get a sound understanding of the feasibility of cloud deployment in the face of this paradigm shift.

According to their observations, the current labor costs for the IT staff responsible for routine maintenance and troubleshooting equipment and applications, coupled with recurring costs for housing equipment, software licenses, warranties, etc., contribute towards 75 to 80 percent of the total cost of ownership over a device’s or application’s lifetime.

With tightening budgets and a rapid need for virtualization, educational institutions are at the crossroads of choosing between cloud server hosting and in-house solutions to meet their data management requirements.

edtech

Source: EdTech Magazine

Fortunately, the future of large-scale cloud migration in the realm of education looks promising as demonstrated by the deployment of over 6000 3T cloud computing terminal devices in 118 schools in Zhuji, China. With 60 TB worth of HDD storage and 28 pieces of blade servers supporting the city’s information center, the project will continue throughout 2015 and play a significant role in cutting down on infrastructure maintenance and power costs.

Thanks to this project, the municipal education authority can boost administration efficiency and focus on smart allocation of online education resources.

  1. Data Sovereignty

Self-hosted cloud solutions are a logical leap forward for universities and schools that are already well-equipped with intranet services and prefer to host all sensitive information on their own servers. They remove third party groups from the data ownership equation and put the onus of data infrastructure management on institutions. For most educational institutions – especially those with bigger operational sovereignty, whatever their composition and educational focus – going ahead with a self-hosted cloud environment is the ideal path to take.

  1. Mobile Device Management

The newfound materialization of the BYOD (bring-your-own-device) trend and deployment of multiple apps for sharing and syncing educational resources has also been a major factor in educational institutions drifting towards self-hosted cloud solutions to help them securely manage their data resources. Even though these apps and services were never heard of a few years ago, it is simply frivolous to not acknowledge the tremendous impact they have had on the boost in productivity of educational institutions. A good self-hosted cloud service offers cross-platform compatibility on Windows, Mac, Linux and all the popular mobile software platforms.

  1. Cost Efficiency

Smart administrators associated with educational institutions who already have numerous existing applications running on old servers must evaluate their options carefully before choosing a cloud solution. As we all know, the ultimate decision usually trickles down to simple economics – can you afford it or not?

While cloud service providers aren’t known to abide by uniform cost structures for similar services, institutes must first test the waters in the market first and determine the average cost per month per user to shift their current applications to cloud servers.  Administrators need to thoroughly evaluate the costs of moving to the cloud, purchasing new hardware, and infrastructure maintenance in order to gauge a fair estimate of the ROI they can achieve by making this transition. To put it into better perspective, let us take a look at the cost comparison analysis of an entirely self-hosted solution to a wholly third party hosted cloud service provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS).

gigaom

                                                 Source: GigaOm

By analyzing the relative costs and sensitivities of each solution according to the distribution of demand over day/month along with their relative demand for bandwidth vs computation resources, you can reach your decision accurately based on the load profiles for both of them.

gigaom xls
Source: GigaOm

The simplified UI and administrative tools associated with self-hosted file sharing systems do not require heavy IT staff supervision, and therefore help institutions trim down on resource investments.

  1. Multi-tenancy Terms

Universities are affiliated with a variety of institutions that fall under their umbrage, whether it’s medical schools, engineering schools, or art schools. A self-hosted file sharing system that can support these numerous tenants through distinct sites and manage relevant data access for all of them gives universities a great advantage.

  1. Easing Rights Management

The ideal cloud solution to pick would be one that offers a singular, uniform data management and auditing platform, and one that integrates with existing AD/LDAP infrastructure and NTFS.

  1. Compliance and Standardization of Policies

Data governance encompasses a plethora of issues ranging from audit to process management, and regulatory compliance to access control and e-discovery. However, certain protocols may be higher up the priority ladder for different educational institutions as per their operational scale and coverage focus.

Therefore, a self-hosted file sharing system that offers one comprehensive and reliable policy with customizable terms and services is highly beneficial.

  1. Data Security

Due to the immense volume of sensitive data handled by universities on a day-to-day basis, there is no room for callousness and mismanagement. Hence, adopting a cloud solution that has clear data ownership and privacy policies in place to safeguard critical research data, examination results, student personal details, etc., is crucial.

  1. Monitoring, Analysis, and Auditing

In the age of big data, nearly every efficient self-hosted file sharing system comes equipped with sophisticated monitoring and analytic tools. These tools can help institutions monitor all operations involving the sharing, syncing, and accessing of files, and identify any vulnerability or redundancy in systems that need to be addressed. By partaking in regular auditing of systems, educational institutions can further stay on track with the security and privacy regulations laid out to protect sensitive information.

  1. Brand Customizability

Brand reputation is the key to the success of long-standing educational goliaths like Harvard, Yale, and Cambridge. Every year thousands of universities strive to reach their level and get a taste of their prestige and monetary firepower. By adopting a self-hosted cloud solution, you can customize your services in alignment with your brand objectives without any compromise.

  1. Distance Learning Management

E-learning is set to revolutionize the world and institutions have started to jump on this bandwagon for quite some time now since it gives them a chance to diversify their revenue sources without much investment in resources. A self-hosted cloud solution can help securely facilitate sharing and syncing between teachers and distance learning subscribers.

Here is an example how FileCloud enabled a self hosted cloud for a large university.

 Author: Prashant Bajpai

Image Courtesy: bplanet, freedigitalphotos.net

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