@Steven_Cleaver do you feel that these possible negatives outweigh the positives a cloud system brings to customers? Customers being staff, parents, students?
I respect what you are saying, some points you make are very valid. Some are not an issue with all cloud based systems. Some suppliers of web based systems allow you to host yourself, so you retain control over the hardware. Every supplier prices on some form of annual maintenance, per pupil is one way. Most providers of web systems, particularly hosted, schedule upgrade times with the concent of their customers, and also target typical quiet times of the year.
Internet going down: Yes a problem. If your internet goes down, an internal system will work, but no access to the rest of the world still, and your externally working users (parents, students) cannot access your system. On the cloud, at least you have the options for 3G connectivity (depending on the MIS obviously ) We live in dark days where frequent internet outages still occur... we do live in 2012 right?
Uses up bandwidth: Again depends on the MIS. If it is truely cloud, information exchange should be minimul, even reporting or even creating the timetable. It should be done at the server end, presenting only the required infomation to the user, like most good optimised websites these days.
Obviously I am talking about MIS systems I know well I cannot speak for all.
Interesting discussion points though
Web based hosted internally with External access I am not so concerned with and we run a few systems along those lines, it is just Cloud based where everything is offsite. Your right as regards pricing of MIS systems per user pupil etc it is just if hosted offsite, I just feel it is more difficult to move if you aren't happy as you need to either get your data moved between suppliers or purchase equipment and get the Data moved internally onto your new infrastructure which I just feel would be difficult.
I know a couple of companies that schedule upgrades without discussing with the customer and because of their size really people can't argue so lose all access to MIS while the upgrade is underway again Cloud based systems or externally hosted.
Your also right about bandwidth as regards if designed right this shouldn't be a problem but I wouldn't be hundred percent confident in this. Issues coming around the Exam season where everyone is trying reports or extract information. MIS cloud company becomes successful 200 schools move to use their system all of a sudden companies infrastructure can't cope system unusable I haven't seen this with MIS Cloud based but have with other web based\Cloud based systems taking a few weeks to resolve fully.The school wouldn't be happy if this happened with MIS system, No Attendance,No access to Pupil, Parent info, Time Table etc.
If the Internet goes down you can still access everything in school so wouldn't normally effect your MIS system during the day which would happen on a Cloud based system.
obviously the ultimate argument is that if the school has a power outage or other major disruption then you can't guarantee being back up for potentially several hours (unless you've got a diesel generator tucked away in an outbuilding). How's that any different to internet connectivity being down for a few hours ? both are worst case scenarios that should be rare occurrences.
to be brutally honest, folk higher up than us onsite support staff and arguably better positioned to judge DPA issues for MIS in the cloud wouldn't even provide such solutions it if it didn't meet various criteria. Surely responsibility for the secure hosting of the service, and thus protection from cyber attacks lies with the hosting company ? I can honestly say it's not something that would worry me if i was a user of such a system...just as a user of online banking i take various precautions that i have control over like keeping my computer patched using an up to date browser etc - the modern world is about having a certain amount of trust in big corps to safeguard your data ensure your bank balance has the right number of 0's that type of thing, more so such issues would keep me up at night if i were the provider. As indeed you sort of are if your hosting data on the school servers as in the traditional model, and your solely responsible for stuff like backing up the MIS database, so that you or whichever LA you have a support contract will can restore the data in case of emergency. now that's pressure.
the ultimate factor in deciding whether it's in the best interests of schools' ICT support is a) does this cloud MIS thingy create more support calls for me, or fewer. It could be that you get more complaints about 'network slow, register taking an age to load' but then counter balance that with all the other stuff that eats up time in supporting an onsite system where patching, downtime, client updates are your responsibility. I'd be amazed if cloud MIS created more not less work. It might be more frustrating in being more reliant on the MIS provider, and obviously there is an added burden on so many more clients going out to the internet using up bandwidth...but then if you can't get 100mbps+ feeds or your comfortable in managing the burden of hosting MIS onsite then it probably is no need to jump in, but quite a few schools have access to faster and faster pipes just crying out for a killer app besides consuming online video, and maybe they want to free up time and resources from hosting the MIS themselves in the long run. Ultimately it is about how you end managing/providing this key service in the long run.
I am one of those early schools. We did struggle in the beginning but we are in the Pioneer stages so we did sign up for a bit of pain. As an ex powerlifter I can say we had the pain and now are starting to enjoy the gain. It is building nicely and we are getting to grips with the exciting features and realizing massive potential in the product. Watch this space. I don't think it goes on general release until version 12.2 is out which is end of June/July.
Me too I completely agree definite risks involved
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