Has the time come for your school to upgrade its IT infrastructure and capability?
It's imperative you have a system that has the capacity to meet your current and future needs.
This article will help you evaluate whether an on-premises data center or a hosted service is the best fit for your school.
What is a data center?
A data center is a dedicated room or secure area that houses all the school's IT equipment including servers, storage hardware, cables and racks. The alternative is a cloud-based system where you rent server space from a provider, your data is hosted remotely and they perform all updates and ongoing maintenance.
Before making the call, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision.
On-premises data center– pros and cons
An on-premises data center gives you full control of your data. This is especially critical for meeting statutory privacy requirements for hosting sensitive personal information.
There are some cons to this option, however:
- High upfront costs of purchasing, installing and maintaining equipment.
- ‘Hidden’ costs including powering, cooling and securing your equipment.
- Finite amount of storage and capacity, so if your data requirements change you will have to upgrade your server resources, which is an extra cost.
Cloud-based data center – pros and cons
Cloud-based storage services are popular, and with good reason. Not only do they simplify the management of your IT function, they also remove (or reduce) the need to outlay funds for expensive IT infrastructure or maintenance. Initial costs will be primarily a set-up fee as well as licensing for software, while you get access to the latest hardware with the option to add storage or bandwidth as and when required.
The cloud isn't perfect, however, and some cons include:
- No direct control of your data.
- Sensitive data hosted by a third-party provider may not meet privacy regulations.
- The cloud has multiple points of access, so a breach of security is possible.
The best of both worlds?
Consider a hybrid approach, combining in-house and the cloud, as a practical solution. This gives you the best of both worlds, hosting sensitive data on-premises and using the cloud for storing and accessing low-priority data.
Special considerations for schools
As an educational institution, you'll need to consider a range of factors when choosing how and where to host your data. First and foremost will be meeting the regulatory requirements in your jurisdiction with regard to data security and privacy. An on-premises data center will need to be secured. If you opt to work with a cloud provider, you will need to assess their security level and the steps they take to protect your data.
How to decide
In terms of evaluating which option is right for your school's needs, take the time to consider the following factors:
- What are upfront costs?
- What are ongoing costs?
- Will your data be secure?
- What will it cost to increase capacity and/or performance?
Once you have clear answers to these questions, your decision – to build or not to build, and if so, what to build – should be clear.