Cloud Offers Affordable Backup and Web Security
The proliferation of mobile devices and social networking applications might be exciting news for students, but for many schools struggling just to keep a lid on costs while still protecting the network, data, and students? Not so much.
Instead, the popularity of Web 2.0 technologies in education, along with new and more bandwidth-intensive ways to access the Internet, and the increase in mobile devices like smart phones in student hands, has given school districts a massive IT headache.
The challenge: As education budgets continue to shrink, and as class sizes grow, keeping students safe in cyberspace while also keeping the network, and school district data, secure.
In response, K12 leaders are turning to cloud computing – a technology that can move a school district’s computing systems and applications, along with the responsibility for installing, maintaining, updating and backing them up – to an off-premise provider. The idea has brewed in IT for many years, hence the many names for it, from software-as-a-service to virtualization to cloud computing. While the terms can mean somewhat different things, the general premise is the same – moving select hardware and software responsibilities to outside vendors who have specific expertise. That might mean applications and databases such as the student information system, HR, and financial data, and can include data centers, backup and security functions, helpdesk tasks, backup and support of desktop systems, and much more.
Depending on what is moved to the cloud, the technology can offer tremendous advantages, including far better data security, sophisticated user protections, and dramatic cost savings. Consider cost – with no upfront expenses for hardware or software, districts can quickly save large amounts. Support costs also drop when computing jobs like data backup or application support are moved off the premises, freeing up beleaguered IT staff for other tasks.
For education, cloud computing is an idea whose time has come. Strapped for IT personnel, encumbered by budget cuts, and faced with escalating technology expectations, K12 technology leaders clearly need help. Moving specific functions to the cloud can free schools and districts to focus on their core competency – educating students – rather than the distraction of maintaining technology.
Cloud computing clearly raises many questions, including which areas of IT are most appropriate for moving to the cloud, what resource changes a move to the cloud might mean, and the safety and security of cloud-based solutions.
In fact, with highly evolved security and encryption standards now in place, along with improved transport technologies and super-high speeds, the technology of cloud computing is reaching maturity. As a consequence, it is spreading like wildfire through both the business world and education.
Some of the areas where cloud computing can produce immediate results in K12 are user security and data backup, areas in which expertise is typically required in order to do the job right – expensive staff for which few districts have adequate budgets. The right cloud vendor, in contrast, can bring focused expertise and the right tools to making sure that Internet usage is completely safe for students, for example. Cloud technology is also a perfect fit for data backup, since by definition data backed up to the cloud is stored by the vendor in a secure offsite location.
The ability of the cloud to provide both secure web browsing and data protection in K12 is the focus of cloud-based solutions from Barracuda Networks. The company, which specializes in content security, data protection, and application delivery solutions, offers cloud-based solutions called Barracuda Backup Service and Barracuda Web Security Flex that can help districts move away from tape backups and to protect online students.
Eliminating of the complexity of tape backups, the Barracuda Backup Service uses the cloud to help schools safely and securely back up data to a remote location. For Internet security, Barracuda Web Security Flex protects students using Web 2.0 applications online against fast-moving, aggressive Web threats. The solution includes malware analysis, URL filtering, and coverage of content types and applications – all advanced security technologies that are cloud-based and help reduce overall capital costs.
The exciting advent of cloud computing is shifting the role of IT, making information technology services more like a utility such as electricity or water. However, it’s a utility that everyone can contribute to – and for IT staffs in charge of student safety and school district data, that’s a huge challenge. Proven cloud solutions focused on K12 can help school districts safely and securely realize the huge promise of cloud computing.
To learn more how you can save up to 30% on Barracuda Networks cloud-based Web security and data protection solutions and download a new thought leadership white paper: Cloud Computing, the Mobile User and the K-12 IT Organization visit: www.barracuda.com/thinkcloud.