Benefits of removing on-premise systems from schools.

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There are many different reasons why an organisation (business or school) will opt for on-premise systems, servers and systems that are based on site in your building. The traditional Windows Domain Server and client machines are still a very common solution for many organisations. 

For many years it’s been very difficult for school staff to be able to access everything they need when working at home or at off site meetings. The use of a VPN and remote access is just another set of things that can go wrong and create more problems for IT support to have to fix. One of the reasons schools choose this approach is that they only know what they know. Many IT companies who support schools still want to up-sell expensive on-premise servers and do their best to hold them back from advancing into a cloud based world that will enable staff and students to work anytime and anywhere they wish to. These words often come up in conversation with schools, “we’ve always done it that way!”; I’ve often been told “we’d love to do that but we haven’t got someone like you who can help us do that!”. 

At the start of the Covid-19 Lockdown in March 2020, it quickly became apparent that those who were already cloud based, had no problem with making the transition to home working and remote learning for students. Many non-cloud based schools quickly realised they had been provided with an ineffective on-premise solution by their IT Provider. This was an ideal opportunity to migrate to the  cloud but, again, IT Support companies didn’t promote the move to Google or Microsoft Cloud options for Free. They set up messy, complicated VPN access to on-premise servers.

In April 2019, The DfE published guidance on cloud based options for schools. The information provided clearly highlights the benefits for schools to move away from on-premise devices. The main benefits are:

  • Economy – Saving money
  • Efficiency – Saving teachers’ time
  • Effectiveness – what you can do
  • Security – can be much more secure

 

As an IT Support professional I find it difficult to comprehend why anyone wouldn’t consider retiring on site servers and opt for cloud based solutions instead. There’s so many benefits to not having a server on site that needs to be kept physically secure as well as having to maintain the hardware and software. For example, the free option of Google Workspace for Education has everything a school needs and works on any device. There’s also the option to convert older Windows devices into Chromebooks to save schools even more money. 

 

At this time there are still occasions where the school MIS & finance still need a server on site to host the applications. Many MIS providers now have fully cloud based solutions and others have long term plans to migrate their solutions to the cloud. This will mean in a few years time that there’s no reason at all why schools cannot be 100% cloud based.