EDUCATION

Five Ways Education Can Benefit from Cloud Storage

Thu Dec 08 2022By Ben Bonadies

Few professionals appreciated the value of cloud computing during the COVID-19 pandemic more than educators. Schools with cloud computing capabilities benefitted substantially from virtual classrooms due to the ability to collaborate and share information without significant infrastructure upgrades. Institutions already storing much of their data in the cloud saw little operational disruption, while those that weren’t in the cloud discovered additional incentive to take cloud storage seriously.

Educational institutions have some unique storage management issues. Colleges and university research projects can generate vast amounts of data that is expensive and unwieldy to administer. Data needs to be secured but also available to anyone who needs it. Schools are subject to numerous regulations in areas such as privacy, accessibility, diversity, and employment. Most institutions are under constant pressure to do more with less.

The low cost, convenience, and high availability of data storage infrastructure-as-a-service rapidly makes cloud storage the default solution for industries of all kinds. Here are five ways educators, in particular, can benefit.

Secure Data with Immutable Backups

The pandemic magnified the already complex cybersecurity challenges educational institutions face. Large schools and colleges may have tens of thousands of users accessing applications and data from an assortment of devices. Part-time faculty, visiting lecturers, transfer and exchange students, contractors, and online learners must be accommodated. The task of administering and securing all that data becomes almost impossibly complex.

At the same time, ransomware is running amok in education. Sophos recently reported that 64% of higher education institutions were hit by ransomware in 2021 at an average cost of $1.5 million per incident. The sector is also the slowest to recover from an attack.

Keeping bad guys out of the network is futile, so organizations focus on protecting the data. Immutable storage is a technology that prevents anyone — including administrators and data owners- from deleting or changing files and storage objects during a specified retention period. Cybercriminals can’t delete it, and ransomware can’t overwrite it. Immutable storage also guarantees that data hasn’t been tampered with, providing peace of mind to administrators, security personnel, and regulators.

Immutable storage in the cloud provides a level of protection that on-premises solutions can’t match.

Secure Compliance

Few sectors of the economy are subject to as many regulations as education. Some, like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, are unique to schools and colleges. Others, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, apply broadly to buildings and classrooms. Schools with residential facilities may also be subject to numerous other controls in areas like safety, environmental protection, healthcare, and food service.

All this adds up to a lot of data that must be captured, secured, backed up, and made quickly available if regulators demand it. Data stored in the cloud is always available, automatically secured, and can be easily and economically backed up. Automated tagging and classification support rapid retrieval. Audit trails and version control protect against deliberate or unintentional modification. Data can also be tagged for automatic disposal upon the expiration of records retention deadlines.

Enhanced Video Surveillance Security

Columbia University operates 3,000 surveillance cameras, The University of Minnesota has 4,600. Many schools also equip their campus police forces with body cameras and use drones to monitor large gatherings of people. Depending on resolution and frame rate, a single Wi-Fi security camera can generate up to 60 gigabytes of data per month. Preserving and accessing these images on local servers is an enormous cost and data management challenge.

As an alternative, security administrators can automatically configure cameras to save surveillance footage to low-cost cloud storage. Retention rules can be applied to automatically delete recordings after a specified time or move it to low-cost archival storage. Each camera can be assigned a dedicated storage region, making retrieval easy. All this enables security personnel to monitor events in real-time and search back to archives to understand better the factors leading up to an incident.

Storage Account Visibility and Automated Account Management

Between students, faculty, and administrators, educational institutions have a lot of accounts to keep track of. Administering policies and billing for usage across hundreds or thousands of users can become overwhelming. An administrative console like Wasabi Account Control Manager enables administrators to automate the creation of accounts and sub-accounts, assign quotas, identify active and deleted storage, track data ingress and egress events and monitor the status of storage objects. Its API-based approach enables cloud storage to be integrated with an institution’s preferred systems management solutions.

Cost-Effective Storage and Backup Compared to On-Prem Solutions

At a time of spiraling costs, nearly every educational institution is pressured to hold down expenses. Cloud storage is not only easier to manage than on-premises equipment, but it’s also less expensive.

Our analysis of storage costs over five years details this difference. The system hardware needed to store one petabyte of data is a roughly $500,000 capital expense. Maintenance at the standard 15% rate adds another $375,000 over five years. Datacenter floor space, power, and cooling total another $60,000, and the cost of employing an administrator to manage the infrastructure adds another $75,000 annually, totaling $375,000. Those costs are to maintain primary storage. Backing up data on-premises involves additional hardware and administrative time. Altogether, the five-year cost comes out to at least $1.3 million.

The cost of storing an equivalent amount of data in the Wasabi cloud is $6,133 per month or just under $360,000 over five years. That’s less than 30% of the cost of a self-managed solution with 99.99% availability.

Not all cloud storage is priced the same. Hyperscalers charge up to five times as much as Wasabi and include fees for data transfer and access that can add another 30% to monthly costs. That can bring the price tag well above the cost of an on-premises server.

Educational institutions should carefully evaluate their cloud storage options, factoring in long-term costs and overhead “taxes” that charge customers to access their data. In most cases, the cloud is a better deal.

Conclusion

There are good reasons why International Data Corp. expects the cloud storage market to grow nearly 25% per year through 2026. Compared to the infrastructure and people costs of self-managed storage, cloud services win across the board. For IT leaders at educational institutions who are already wrestling with unprecedented complexity and security challenges, a plan with straightforward pricing and no overhead fees can provide security, availability, and management capabilities that exceed those of local infrastructure at a fraction of the cost.

Read the case study: Clarke University’s Seamless Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure Ensures Cost-effective Data Immutability and Ransomware Prevention.

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EDUCATIONFive Reasons Why Educational Institutions Should Use Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage

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