I predict that your school will be using a cloud-based solution within the next five years…here’s why.
First of all, if you are not sure what I’m talking about, cloud computing basically means that your applications such as email client, word processing, etc. are internet-based. The programs are not installed on your computer. This is a little over simplistic but you get the idea. For example, Gmail is considered cloud-based because you access it via the Internet and no application is needed except for your browser.
The number one reason your school will go to cloud computing is cost. IT expenses for a school district are enormous. Purchasing and maintaining email servers and productivity software costs big money, not only for the products but for the personnel to manage it. Robust cloud-based solutions are free. In an economy where budget cuts are a stark reality, the large IT budget is an inevitable target. A clear example is the Kentucky Department of Education moving their school system to the cloud and saving $6.3 Million.
Growing competition is another reason your school will move to the cloud. Google Apps has been in the game for a number of years and has recently opened up the entire Google Apps library in their free, school solutions. Microsoft has answered with their cloud solution for schools, Live@Edu and Office 365. Not only is it a free, cloud solution for schools but it also integrates with client versions of Microsoft Office products. This competition between Google and Microsoft will ensure the services are free (or at least low cost) and packed with features.
Lastly, we will all demand cloud solutions because we want everything, everywhere we go and on any device. The Cloud is the solution that will let us access all of our “stuff” and collaborate with others, anytime, anywhere. As the competition continues, cloud solutions will surely includes apps for various devices (many exist currently) that will make our digital lives seamless.
I would be surprised if your district or school is not already having these conversations. My prediction is that the 2012-2013 school year will be the year the majority of schools move to the cloud.