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Essay: Make a recommendation about cloud-based technologies for a school

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  • Subject area(s): Information technology essays
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  • Published: 15 October 2019*
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  • Words: 1,252 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 6 (approx)

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Introduction:

Your school has inquired a recommendation about cloud-based technologies. This new technology has become popular and has changed the way students and teachers interact in classrooms. Schools can now store their data in cloud-based technologies. Although schools can benefit significantly when transitioning to cloud-based technologies, they still need to consider the costs involved. Security risks must be understood before implementing cloud-based technologies to your school.

What are cloud-based technologies?

The term cloud-based technologies is a broad term that ‘describes data storage that is made available as a service via a network.’  Cloud users have resources, applications and services ready to use via a cloud server.  Cloud-based technologies can be used all over the world, as long as the location has Internet access.  Therefore, if the school Internet is offline, then you can’t access the data.

The different types of cloud-based technologies:

There are different types of cloud-based technologies, these include: platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS.)  PaaS are applications running on other company’s system software and hardware. Hence exemplars of PaaS are Google App Engines and App Cloud.  Similarly, SaaS is a complete application running on someone else’s system.’  Common SaaS are Google documents, Zoho and web-based emails. In contrast, IaaS is when computer hardware is brought over the net, thus servers or storage. ‘Ordinary web hosting is a simple example of IaaS.’

How cloud-based technologies work:

Cloud-based technologies comprise of two layers, front-end layers and the back-end layers.  Users are able to interact with is the front-end, which is the computer and network.

Accessing Facebook is, in fact, utilising software from the front-end of the cloud.  While the back-end is ‘hardware and the software architecture that fuels the interface you see on the front end.’  The back-end entails all different types of computer programs, but essentially all applications have their own server.

When storing data, information is placed on ‘physical servers maintained and controlled by a cloud computing provider.’  This data then can be downloaded on different types of devices. Overall the two layers connect via an Internet network, hence the user must be connected to the Internet in order to use cloud services. ,

The costs involved:

Introducing cloud-based technologies will ‘minimal expenditure’  to your school since ‘everything can be done in the cloud.’  Cloud-based technologies come at affordable costs, which will actually save money for your school.

The different types of cloud-based technologies all have ‘a different form of pay-as-you-go model.’  IaaS uses a pay-as-you-go system, hence ‘you pay a monthly subscription or a per-megabyte/gigabyte fee.’  The same principle applies for PaaS, where costs depend on application and gigabytes of memory. In comparison, SaaS pricing varies on ‘features, storage capacity or on a per-user basis.’

If your school does make the transition to cloud-based technologies, then you need to be prepared for the costs involved. To allow students and staff to use tools required, then your school will need to purchase software licenses for a number of users.  Thus Information, Processing and Publishing students will need to access the Adobe suite. Legally your school must have the proper software licenses to access these applications. Furthermore, Adobe Creative Cloud helps you save money with their ‘affordable customized licensing option,’  (refer to figure 1.0 for pricing.)

Hidden charges throughout cloud-based technology are expensive for schools.  Often Cloud providers offer an option that’s free but comes with strings attached.  This includes an expiration date on the free cloud offerings, or being billed once the ‘thresholds are exceeded.’  To avoid this from happening to your school, always read the fine print of cloud-based technologies.

If you’re School has made the transition to Apple products, then you should rethink Apple iCloud. People think iCloud is free, but what people don’t know is it’s free with strings attached. The first 5GB is free for storage, but then you must pay for an upgrade in storage, (refer to figure 2.0 for prices.)  Therefore, it is vital you decide appropriate amounts of storage for your school and make sure you ‘know how much the cloud will actually cost you.’

Figure 1.0: Photograph showing the Adobe Creative Cloud prices for schools and universities.

Source: “Discover the Creative Cloud experience” adobe.com, date of publication unknown, Available online: https://creative.adobe.com/plans?promoid=KSPAK&store_code=au July 22nd 2016

How can a school benefit from using cloud-based technologies?

The increased flexibility offered to staff and students whilst using cloud-based technologies can benefit schools substantially. Staff can work anywhere as long as they have an Internet connection.  Devices aren’t restricted, as most devices are compatible.

Cloud-based technology has the added benefit of collecting and grading work via cloud-based technology.  Students then have immediate access to assignments and grades.

Cloud-based technologies are ethical to the environment. Schools use large quantities of paper, hence why moving towards cloud-based technologies would limit paper usage. Thus your school will become more environmentally friendly and reduce your school’s carbon footprints.

Cloud-based technologies bring a social aspect into classrooms as students can work together simultaneously.  Collaborations in class can see teachers setting up ‘student groups to work on projects and assignments in the cloud.’  Files would be shared in the cloud in-group assignments, rather than using thumb drives.

Sending files between emails becomes messy, but with cloud-based technologies ‘all files are stored centrally.’  Using cloud-based technologies controls documents in schools, therefore it is highly recommended you move toward cloud-based technologies.

Security risks and how to avoid them:

If you choose to include cloud-based technologies in your school, then you need to understand the security risks present. Account hijacking is an issue that’s a arisen with cloud-based technology as ‘attackers can eavesdrop on activities, manipulate transactions, and modify data.’  Thus, your school must monitor accounts and ‘prohibit the sharing of account credentials between users and services’  to prevent fraud and phishing. For protection, it is suggested you distribute data across different zones.

Secondly, malicious insiders would become a threat, as an ‘insider can destroy whole infrastructures or manipulate data.’  Resulting in permanent data loss, to avoid this your school must control the encryption process and limit user accesses.  Hence why your school’s data will also need to be backed up. Weak passwords and poor certificate management can result in data breaches. Making one-time passwords via phones ‘protect cloud services because they make it harder for attackers to log in with stolen passwords.’

A hybrid cloud is recommended for your school over public or private clouds. This is because public clouds would make your data vulnerable, but you do not need a complete private cloud.  ,  Additionally, private clouds do have the ‘greatest level of security and control,’  but they can be expensive.   Hybrid clouds offer ‘a variety of public and private options with multiple providers.’

Conclusion:

Cloud-based technologies can be used all over the world as long as there’s Internet access.  The different types of cloud-based technologies are: platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS.)  All cloud-based technologies consist of front-end layers and back-end layers.  When your school does change to cloud-based technologies it is absolutely critical you understand how to prevent security risks and you know the exact costs involved. The increased flexibility whilst using cloud-based technologies can benefit schools significantly. Your school will become flexible, social and more environmentally friendly due to using cloud-based technologies. Therefore it is clear your school should transition to cloud-based technologies.

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