The Hybrid Cloud Lets Schools Maintain Data Policies While Staying Flexible

By: Esther Shein - Leave a comment


For higher-education institutions, which have data policies dictating what information can and cannot be moved off-premises, a new data storage and processing solution may seem increasingly appealing: the hybrid cloud. This model, which offers a blend of traditional IT, public and private resources, enables schools to keep sensitive data on-premises and internal IT staff to be more efficient at meeting demand for computing power.

Data Policies in Academia

According to DLA Piper, there were 36 states considering more than 100 student data privacy bills in 2015. Twenty states ended up passing 28 laws, some of which regulate the use and storage of sensitive student data, including how and when it can be stored in the cloud.

Further, on college campuses around the country, there are an increasing number of mobile devices prompting demand for data-intensive applications and high-speed connections.

A hybrid environment is a good solution to both of these issues because it offers a private cloud infrastructure inside the firewall to provide higher security for sensitive data, while the school can tap into public cloud resources when necessary. The hybrid model is also cost-effective, as users pay only for the resources they use.

Nearly half of all large enterprises will have deployed hybrid clouds by the end of 2017, according to Gartner, so it makes sense for the education sector to follow suit as new data policies require their information to remain on-site.

Staying Flexible and Scalable

The hybrid cloud is the path a host of universities have already taken. One example is when Yale-NUS — a collaborative liberal arts program between Yale and the National University of Singapore — opted to provide access to automated, self-service processes for students, researchers and administrators in Singapore using a hybrid cloud model.

ComputerWeekly reports that the school’s IT officials liked how the public cloud provides large amounts of capacity at a low cost, but a private cloud would keep certain data on-premises for legal and latency reasons. The ability to scale compute-heavy processes up and down was important for conducting scientific research, as well as for virtual teaching environments. Minimizing downtime was also key, Darwin Gosal, senior manager of IT infrastructure and services at Yale-NUS College, told the source.

With a hybrid cloud in place, the university has decreased the complexity of managing its data centers, reduced application deployment time by 80 percent and increased the overall agility of IT operations. Server hardware installations used to take days to deploy; now it takes an hour or two.

Moving Mission-Critical Systems to the Cloud

Lasell College, a small liberal arts school outside of Boston, is also reaping the benefits that come with a hybrid cloud model. More than 65 percent of its mission-critical systems are hosted in a public cloud, while the core student information and enterprise resource planning legacy systems remain on-premises, CIO Deborah Gelch explained on The EvoLLLution.

Nonetheless, it can be tricky to move these systems into the cloud while remaining compliant with regulatory requirements. Late last year, for instance, European courts invalidated the Safe Harbor agreement, which had regulated the way the U.S. was able to move and store personal data of European citizens. Regardless, Gelch cautions that when transitioning systems, schools must understand their data policies and should not rely solely on their cloud provider for compliance.

Clouds Helping Schools in Developing Countries

Developing countries often have limited internet access, making it particularly challenging for schools to access content consistently. On top of that, content and servers hosted locally often don’t get regularly updated and maintained. While working to improve the quality of education in Tanzania, nonprofit Inveneo discovered a hybrid cloud was the panacea, according to ICTWorks.

Today, schools are tasked with reducing budgets, but the same time, innovation in education depends on high-performing, secure and available systems. In higher education the ability to compete for funding and grants and attract students depends on an institution staying on the cutting edge of technology, and in years to come, that might mean embracing a hybrid cloud model.

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About The Author

Esther Shein

Freelance Writer

Esther Shein is a freelance writer and editor specializing in technology, business and education. Her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including Inc., Computerworld, NetworkComputing, InformationWeek, BYTE, CIO, and The Boston Globe. She has written thought leadership whitepapers, customer case studies and marketing materials in addition to news and feature articles.... Read More