Colleges move to the cloud

Cumulus_clouds_in_fair_weatherRecently on EdTech, Tommy Peterson wrote a piece about three colleges and universities sharing advice for a successful cloud migration. Moving to the cloud can mean faculty, staff, and students having a Google Apps account or even a Microsoft Office 365 account.

In our 24/7 always connected world, cloud services allow faculty, staff, and students the ability to access their account, documents, and collaborate with others. Besides being always-on, being in the cloud allows for instant updates. “Cloud apps are agile, designed to evolve much faster than IT can make changes in-house. And colleges need scalability, which is a fundamental element of the cloud.”

Locally, the University of Minnesota has made the move to the cloud too. Jim Hall, IT director at the University of Minnesota Morris campus, pointed out the bonus for IT efficiency. “Google has reduced his campus’s IT costs and the resources required to support multiple email clients, calendaring, and more, which frees his staff to work on supporting faculty in teaching.” Another unique bonus has been the Google phone tool to make free long distance calls. By increasing its use, staff have managed to cut monthly phone call costs from $75 to $9.50 per month.

Special tip: have an exit strategy. “You need an exit strategy from the moment you create the partnership (between the cloud service and your institution), and you need to review it regularly,” says Gartner Research Director Terri-Lynn Thayer. “You don’t want to wait until there’s a problem. Sometimes it’s just a matter of greener pastures — you find a better service for your needs.”