Cloud computing still has a ways to go in K-12 and higher education.
Schools and universities provide about two-fifths of their IT services through the cloud, according to a February CDW survey of IT leaders in K-12 and higher education.* Of these services, more than half of survey respondents offer cloud email and storage — two systems that are relatively easy to move and don't come with high security risks.
Security concerns have education institutions balking at times in their walk to the cloud. In both K-12 and higher ed, security remains the biggest barrier to future cloud adoption, with nearly half of higher ed institutions citing this as a large barrier.
A combination of negative cloud news, misinformation and an unrealistic view of local security practices contribute to a vote of no confidence in cloud security and products, said Tim Murphy, cloud client executive for education at CDW. For instance, local IT shops may think they secure their systems, but in reality, they don't use many of the security practices that cloud services do.
Another misconception: Outsourcing cloud services will cost IT people their jobs. About 20 percent of survey respondents cited this as a barrier to moving more services to the cloud.
"There's a fear factor of 'it's going to replace my career,'" Murphy said. "That's really not the case."
In fact, IT departments are more instrumental now than they have been in the past.
As for enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, a lot of campuses don't trust vendors or think the cloud is secure enough to protect the sensitive information in these systems. Just 18 percent of higher education institutions and a quarter of K-12 institutions host their ERP systems in the cloud.
That trust issue seems to be validated by another stat in the survey. Higher education institutions say that an average of 22 percent of their cloud vendors have failed to hold up their end of the bargain on specific service level agreements. In K-12 schools, that number's slightly lower at 16 percent.
These failures fall on the shoulders of vendors and sometimes education institutions as well. Often, IT leaders create their own agreements or sign on to vendor-written agreements, but don't fully understand what they need cloud vendors to do, Murphy said.
To address many of these challenges, CDW's report recommends taking three steps: Planning and preparing for cloud migration, choosing a platform that can diagnose what's going on with cloud systems, and using a managed service.
*The higher education portion of the survey includes responses from 153 IT leaders with a margin of error that equals +/-7.89 at a 95 percent confidence rate. The K-12 portion of the survey includes responses from 151 IT leaders with a margin of error that equals +/-7.95 at 95 percent confidence rate.