In-the-Cloud Education Is Key

Charlene OHanlon
These days you can't go too far before running into an organization deploying or looking to deploy a cloud solution. That is, unless you're in the education sector. According to a cloud tracking poll released by government-focused service provider CDW-G, 34 percent of colleges and universities are implementing or maintaining a cloud computing environment and 27 percent of schools serving grades K-12 are looking to push at least part of their computing into the ether.

For a vertical that could use the benefits of the cloud - from infinite data for research and development in higher ed to massive reduction in infrastructure to meet the ever-shrinking budgets in K-12 - 34 percent and 27 percent seem like awfully small numbers. And the reason why may be head-slappingly simple: There still exists a lack of real education in the education sector about the cloud.

Now there's irony.

However, the tide seems to be turning on cloud adoption in the education space. In higher ed, another 29 percent of the CDW-G's survey respondents report having developed a written strategic plan to adopt cloud computing, and the New Media Consortium in May listed cloud computing as one of the top 5 emerging technologies that will impact K-12 education in its report, 'The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition.' We can thank a number of factors for pushing cloud adoption further into the education vertical, not the least of which include the aforementioned tighter budgets, the Federal Government's cloud computing initiative brought forth by President Barack Obama - which served to at least put the term on everyone's lips, if not in their brains - and the growing popularity of cloud-based apps in the consumer space (think Google Docs and Microsoft's 'To The Cloud' commercials).

But who should be leading the discussion are the IT services and technology companies that work with these institutions. As much good information there is floating around about the cloud, there is just as much confusing information. Sometimes the best value-add a technology provider or IT services firm can offer is simply an intelligent conversation.

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