Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Although they may not have the same commercial interests at heart, universities have a lot in common with the modern enterprise when it comes to business workflows. Both are tasked with storing sensitive records, managing large financial transactions and incorporating input from a wide variety of internal collaborators and external stakeholders.
As a result, it's no surprise to see more universities following in the footsteps of their corporate counterparts and protecting their assets and interests with online file storage.
Taking out an insurance policy
Business continuity has been perhaps the single largest driver of cloud computing adoption in recent years. As organizations face down capacity concerns in the era of big data, and an ever-expanding array of potential security vulnerabilities, online backup has become somewhat of a silver bullet.
With an unlimited amount of storage space at their fingertips, administrators no longer need to make tough decisions that could compromise the integrity and reliability of their record management strategy. Backing up files in a remote, virtual environment also adds a layer of defense against everything from natural disasters to determined cybercriminals.
According to Campus Technology, these considerations have been top of mind for Tulane University as officials look to revitalize operations following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By partnering with a cloud storage provider, the school has been able to take its internal file sharing platform completely online. Officials were also careful to select a business partner that could cater to their unique security and compliance requirements.
"Like SMBs, many of today's educational institutions are running on very tight budgets. Unfortunately, this can lead to situations where disaster preparedness is pushed down on the list of priorities — but this doesn't have to be the case," Symantec global product marketing manager Monica Girolami told the academic news outlet. "Cloud-based solutions are becoming easy to deploy, but just as important, they can be cost-effective solutions for organizations of all sizes."
Online storage represents much more than a risk management strategy, however. As Tulane and many others have discovered, cloud-based utilities also facilitate a new level of administrative and collaborative efficiency. This is particularly appreciated in the academic community, where students, professors and staff must communicate across dozens of departments stationed across campus.
By setting up a common environment for potentially thousands of users, the possibilities are endless. Students, researchers and academic committee members can upload files anytime and anywhere to keep in touch with their teammates. Or the system can be used to host and enable access to documents that are important to the entire university community, such as updated security bulletins.
What's more, online backup often serves as the jumping off point for more advanced cloud projects. According to Campus Technology, Tulane was so inspired by its initial foray into hosted technology that it decided to integrate a new telephony system that provides instant communication to collaborators at Texas A&M University through a shared portal.
Security maturing, anxiety fading
While the competitive advantages offered by cloud computing have rarely come under suspicion, security and reliability concerns have, at times, sowed the seeds of doubt in some organizations pondering a cloud migration. But as the technology has matured and best practices have emerged, data managers now have the tools and knowledge they need to safely move their files online.
As Mezeo Software CEO Steve Lesem noted in response to his firm's latest survey of IT executives, policy — not technology — is still the key determinant of an organization's data security standing. Information may be coming from and traveling across more endpoints than ever before, but a trusted cloud provider should be able to collaboratively form a plan that deflects any potential threats its clients may face.
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