Author: Leo Lynch
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Schools are already dealing with the exponential growth of the data they handle. The added complexity of recent school closures and a rapid shift to online learning has put them under even more pressure to manage and protect their data and data infrastructure.
The sudden upsurge in remote learning has increased reliance on digital content, connected services, and online apps. For instance, teachers are now recording their lessons and delivering them online. Most of this new content and data are unstructured, and educational institutions are discovering that their traditional storage solutions are not up to managing it all.
COVID-19 has made it clear that digital transformation is not a nice-to-have—it is an absolute necessity – and educational institutions don’t get a hall pass. They must evolve their approach to teaching and enhance their digital learning environments to offer better support to students, professors, and staff, most of whom have no choice but to operate remotely.
Immediate access to information, real-time communication, and online collaboration are now mandatory for today’s classrooms. However, the challenge is that these content-rich remote-learning environments generate a massive and unpredictable amount of data of many different types—courses, tests, research, lesson plans, as well as audio and video files and a host of other unstructured data. This is all critical information that needs to be appropriately protected and stored.
In today’s changing world, educational institutions need an efficient and affordable way to expand storage and improve data backup and recovery. Here are the three critical features that schools should look for in a modern data-management system.
#1: Ease of use
Ease of use is crucial for educational institutions because IT teams are already stretched to capacity, and budgets are incredibly tight. You should look for a solution that eliminates the complexity of data silos by converging file storage, backups, and archival data into a single platform. The benefit of such a solution is that there is no need to manage different storage solutions from different vendors, each with their own workflows.
If a storage solution is easy to use, it can also deliver significant cost efficiencies while increasing productivity. You should be able to “set it and forget it,” which means the solution doesn’t need much supervision to make sure everything is working. IT teams can then spend less time managing storage and more time driving strategic initiatives.
The bottom line is that, with ease of use, your school can see an increase in cost savings and a decrease in the hours that IT spends on data storage and backup.
#2: Strong security
Remote learning has become the new standard and schools must accommodate many different users and many different types of devices connecting to their networks. As a result, the chance of being hit by a ransomware attack is higher than ever.
Malicious cyber actors are actively targeting individuals and organisations, including schools. According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the private education sector is the third biggest victim of data breaches. In June 2019, Nagle Catholic College in Western Australia came under a cybersecurity attack, with bank account and credit card information stolen, including signatures scanned when parents paid school fees.
You need the ability to always recover your data quickly. The good news is that emerging technologies like immutable snapshots now give schools the ability to capture and back up their unstructured data in near real-time—and do it cost-effectively. A storage snapshot protects your information continuously by taking snapshots every 90 seconds. Even in the case of a ransomware attack, your data is protected and can be restored immediately without effort. It literally comes down to pressing a virtual button.
#3: Future-proof capacity
The education industry is now generating data at unprecedented rates. By 2025, IDC predicts worldwide data will grow 61% to 175 zettabytes. As a result, legacy storage solution could quickly reach its limit and ultimately let you down. You need a scalable storage strategy to keep up with rapid data growth, eliminate expensive forklift upgrades, and reduce sprawling storage islands.
It will be critical to insist on a solution that starts at terabytes of storage and can seamlessly scale up to petabytes. The right storage solution will allow you to add any number of drives, anytime cost-effectively, and in any granularity to meet the storage requirements of your teachers, students, researchers, and other constituents. It will also allow you to easily expand your global storage pool over time with zero configuration and no application downtime.
With the ever-accelerating pace of information creation, and the complexity of managing it and keeping it safe and secure, a modern storage solution should be a no-brainer for educational institutions. With the right storage solution in place, you can deliver a first-class education to students while successfully navigating the unprecedented changes that are roiling the sector.
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