Oaktech (31st January 2014)
I'm all for keeping everything in house; we have our own cloud services that staff can use, we are also soon rolling out RDWeb for both pupils and staff. My main concern is data-protection; I like to know were my data is, as I am sure I will get into serious trouble if it turns out our data (pupil data) leaves the UK from a cloud based service provider. Granted we had the budget to make sure that we had new infrastructure and servers as well as a sizable broadband provision, and it works well for us. Unless I am instructed by SLT (which I am part of) to go cloud based (external), then I'll keep everything close by. I think I would feel that my Job, certainly the role that I take would change dramatically and become less skilled. But they are my own thoughts and theory.
What about finding some external co-location and building your own cloud using something like ... ownCloud.org | Your Cloud, Your Data, Your Way!
That way you control the data but dont have to worry about the hardware and its offsite too in case of any catastrophic failure. You can get clients for owncloud for Android too. I believe also some of the plugins work with Google Apps and you can use basic plugins that let you edit documents on-line.
Personally I'd use it for a dats tore only. I suppose really this defeats the point.
if you have the internet connection up to the job dosent server 2012/r2 have cloud hosting stuff built in so you can have a cloud but the data is still in your building under your control
Not sure why data protection is an issue - Google is registered with the US-EU Safe Harbour agreement.
Not trying to be a saleperson for google but google apps for education is the same product as google apps for business used by 5 million companies and you get it for free. The security and backup are going to be more robust than you can do in house and you don't have to worry about disaster recovery.
We still run Office and home folders alongside google apps but the email, 30GB of cloud storage and collaboration tools are really useful.
I think keeping things in house for the sake of it is old fashioned and you could free up money for other things.
With the increase in Chromebook usages thanks to their "cheap laptop" ethos it is something to consider google docs and it is improving all the time and working hard to become a viable candidate to replace a lot of expensively licensed MS technologies. (Being Free comparable to Office even as part of EES)
Would I be worried about the stuff hosted on it ? yes, if its physically kept outside of the network it is an issue, sensitive data is a big issue in there. Which is why staff have access to a portal created by the LEA where they can access all their hosted files remotely, we use MS Office on the PCs but offer up in addition Google Docs (though here we dont have staff using that much outside of IT that I have personally noticed, we are waiting on our LEA to sort out Office365 in the coming year)
Pupils are using it more regularly though on our site, they can work at home without worrying about an office suite on their computers and its all saved online with no need for USB sticks, I have recently spoken with a couple about printing from Chromebooks, it is becoming more widespread and I do see how good google docs can be, from being in a classroom where the pupils are all collaborating on projects working together making a "Sheet" or a "Slide" all on their seperate machines and working together.
In fact backup isn't as good as we do in house and we will have to buy in a solution to give us the some of the same protection. I have a lot of sympathy with the OP. These changes are often being driven by evangelists without proper consideration as to the cost, impact and risk of the changes. Problems lurk along the path like icebergs - but change isn't well planned, so support staff end up manning the bucket chains. I keep hearing our head of ICT claiming that Google will save us money, but so far I can see £100K investment with no actual savings in sight. That might not be true for everyone, but the 'sell' reminds me of VDI sales people who would ring up and promise me I could save more money than we actually spend! And in the end, something like Google Apps should be done because it meets a requirement and enables the delivery of a high quality curriculum, not because it is a cheap option.
Last edited by pcstru; 31st January 2014 at 10:57 AM.
Thanks for your input... To answer a few questions...
We already use HAP really quite extensively and the teacher in question knows it, but is still insistent on Google. I've already told them that as long as we use MS operating systems we don't pay any more for our use of Office - to which he has responded OK, lets just use chrome boxes!
My problem with using chrome boxes is that we make a massive deal about providing an education using industry standard equipment... As far as I know, Chrome and google are not industry standard yet.
We don't block it at the moment and anyone is free to use it on or off site, however, we have literally a handful of people who we know use it.
I'm aware that Google security is some of the best around, but seeing as we backed away from progresso due to senior management concerns over data security, they are pretty skittish about it. I am more concerned about kids finding out each others passwords and deleting one another's work. They do that enough with local files and at least we can just recover work from backups in minutes from them. I don't know how drive and docs deal with recovery?
I seriously don't think that Google docs would serves us any better than our current solution, and having done a storage audit not long ago, we are not using vast amounts of storage for documents, the vast majority of our storage is given over to electronic text books and multimedia resources.
I've worked really hard to get agreement from senior management for a server infrastructure refresh that isn't coming cheap, it allows us to move away from RM and XP. I am quite concerned that if this teacher gets the ear of management it could undermine a lot of this without meaning to.
I'm sure I read somewhere that schools had to make sure their data didn't leave UK boarders. (odd how that works in this global internet connection, they might just be referring to storage rather than transmission (I hope)), but not sure where I heard or read that.
Its the EU and yes you are right, I wouldn't go keeping any confidential information on the Google drive for this reason. I hear things are in the works at cloud companies to allow you to choose where your data is held but until then you will want to keep it safe.
My only real concern is how to get the data back onto our network should we decide that the cloud has not provided us with what we thought it would. We have moved some of our facilities over to cloud based solution and it hasn't really provided us with any benefit over what we already had considering the cost.
Those people advocating HAP+ should remember that this is only a means of downloading files, the file must be saved on the home computer in order to be edited which raises Data Protection concerns (e.g. what if the staff member's home computer was stolen?).
Backup is another concern with Cloud systems. With VSS or similar on the server, you can take backups of every file every 2 hours and keep them for months, reverting back to any one of those copies at will - this can be done in a few seconds, and students can even do it themselves. What are your recovery options with Google Docs?
Yeah just seem that... It's at least a delay tactic I can use!
For us the point with Google Apps are the collaborative features: student-student, student-teacher & teacher-teacher. It allows you to work in ways that are not possible otherwise. In your situation why not register for google apps for education, give everyone an account through AD sync and let staff and students that want to use GAFE use it? You could have policies regarding what type of documents and information can be used online, and policies regarding where "official" documents are stored. Even if someone does their work on google apps, they can download a MS Word version to store as the official document on your network. The converse works as well - the official document resides on your network but then can be uploaded, shared and collaborated via google apps. When finished the new official document is downloaded and replaces the old.
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