Study Identifies Three Cloud Growth Drivers in Education
A new report from Technavio forecasts that cloud computing in the education sector will see a 26 percent compound annual growth rate in coming years, becoming a $20.59 billion market by 2021. This forecast includes projections across the education spectrum, from K-12 schools to higher education.
Technavio says North America is especially primed for cloud growth in education because it already has high-quality IT infrastructure. Plus, a number of educational institutions, particularly in higher education, are exploring project-based blended and experiential learning, with increasing interest in game-based learning. Three main factors are driving educational institutions to investigate cloud resources: lower total cost of ownership, mobile learning and increased reliance on analytics.
Cost of Ownership
Lower ownership costs are a significant driver for cloud adoption across almost all industries. Instead of making ongoing capital investments in on-premises infrastructure and hosting applications on-site, school districts, private K-12 schools, colleges and universities prefer these services as operational expenditures for which they can budget and spread out costs.
Additionally, they rely on cloud service providers for backup and certain security functions, such as patching and updates. It’s important, however, for educational institutions to be clear about what their providers do and don’t do according to their service-level agreements. Many infrastructure-as-a-service providers, for instance, hold customers responsible for securing organizational data, applications and operating systems while only providing security for their own resources.
Cloud computing provides greater opportunities for self-service. Self-service enables schools to meet student and faculty demands for services like content creation and publication without devoting their IT resources to procuring, maintaining and securing those services. Teachers and students can manage content and host it off-site, reducing on-premises administrative and resource burdens while receiving the same quality of service that they would receive on-premises.
Growing acceptance of bring-your-own-device policies enables students to bring phones and tablets made by multiple brands and using various operating systems to K-12 and college campuses. Cloud providers can host applications and make them accessible via any device or browser, which enhances students’ mobile learning and file-sharing options. Providers handle security for remote applications along with security for file-sharing and storage.
The reduced cost of on-premises hosting and file storage, along with the reduced local-area network burden, requires a trade-off. Schools have to invest in wide-area network bandwidth to ensure students can access remote cloud resources without experiencing latency or unavailability. Student and faculty content creation and consumption puts increasing pressure on wide-area network capacity, so schools have to weigh the costs of increasing carrier data capacity against the costs of hosting resources on campus.
Cloud Computing for Analytics
Technology has transformed learning delivery for students of all ages. Old student records stored in paper files have been digitized, and assignments are now completed via online portal. The data generated and stored provides a treasure trove for business intelligence and both predictive and prescriptive analytics.
Analyzing data is a resource-intensive process, making it a good candidate for cloud hosting. The same goes for storage of student and faculty data. Again, educational institutions need to be aware of what cloud providers secure and what they don’t, particularly related to highly regulated data around financial transactions and personal health information.