Should I stay or should I go?: 3 ways going to the cloud beats staying on premise.

Should I stay or should I go?: 3 ways going to the cloud beats staying on premise.

By Jeff Ralyea on Thursday, October 15, 2015


In the halls, on the quad, at the conferences—everyone in higher education is talking about “campus modernization.”

While modernization is certainly about more than technology, it still requires a technology foundation that looks quite different than it did a decade ago. And for many colleges and universities, the cloud is a key part of that foundation.

From a business standpoint, there are three important outcomes that differentiate cloud-based technology from on-premise.

  1. More innovation, less disruption
    Traditionally, new software features and functionality are made available when the provider delivers a new release, likely on its schedule not yours. Implementation may entail significant downtime, reduced productivity, and waiting for on-premise support. With the cloud, that model is changing.

    When applications are delivered via the cloud, improvements and innovations are available immediately; activated whenever the institution is ready; and implemented in a best-fit manner.

    When your technology is continuously improving, so is the value of your investment—and most importantly, your responsiveness to the rapidly-changing needs of students and staff.

  2. IT staff focused on higher-value activities
    Modernization requires a shift in the way institutions view IT. If IT staff are consumed with maintaining complex systems, as well as trouble-shooting individual user problems, they cannot function at the strategic level needed to transform the business.

    Transitioning servers, databases, and/or application management to the cloud changes this equation. Freed from daily maintenance, IT evolves from service team to business partner, joining cross-functional efforts to improve student success.

  3. Decrease in total cost of ownership
    Total cost of ownership may not drop immediately upon moving to the cloud. The drop will occur over time and will depend on the scope of cloud services you choose to adopt. Regardless, the potential to get more bang for your technology buck is significant and can be measured in several ways:
  • Cost reduction: There are a few reasons to keep physical infrastructure and high-cost, high-skilled talent on premise. You may require a high degree of control over systems and governance or anticipate needing substantial, frequent customizations to support unique student or institutional needs. If not, you can reduce costs significantly by transitioning database/application hosting and management to a cloud services provider. Economies of scale mean paying only for what you need, when you need it—including bandwidth, expertise, and rapid deployment capabilities.

  • Cost avoidance: Economies of scale also offer more sophisticated security and disaster recovery services than those you could afford on your own. As the threat rises, so will the costs (both financial and in lost productivity) that you’ll have to shoulder if your on-premise system is compromised.

  • Value add: As stated above, transitioning technology to the cloud frees IT to make higher-value contributions to campus modernization. And greater agility means innovation gets into the hands of faculty, staff, and students more quickly—improving learning and reducing barriers to success.

Moving to the cloud is not a one-time, one-size-fits-all endeavor. Your cloud strategy should align with your institutional strategy. You may start with services that support short-term goals or areas of highest need and transition other assets over time.

This is the third post in a six-part series on the cloud and higher education. 

If you’ve migrated to the cloud, please share a Comment about the impact it has made on your business.

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About the Author

Jeff Ralyea

Jeff Ralyea

Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cloud at Ellucian

Jeff creates cloud solutions that are integrated, flexible, and designed to enhance the student experience of today and tomorrow.