Remotely hosted solution or a local solution?

Written by admin

Topics: E-Learning, Education

This is a question I often get asked about schools and I don’t think that there is a definitive answer, it really does depend on the context of your school and working environment/resources.

Many authorities will cite back to schools that managing IT infrastructure is not core business within a school and as such is not advised. What I want to do in this post is give a more balanced, objective viewpoint that discusses the merits and pitfalls of both locally and remotely hosted solutions.
Locally hosted solution
Advantages: in control of data storage/backup, no external transmission of sensitive data, speed of local access in classroom (especially when streaming media), resilience to internet failure in school, flexibke upgrade path (additional hard drives for storage etc)
Disadvantages: requires in house technical expertise and time to manage, decent broadband connectivity (upstream for webserver). Management overheads (backup protocols procedures etc)
Remotely hosted solution
Advantages: daily administration is taken away from school – ideal when technical support is limited/limited knowledge, managed backup’s
Disadvantages: Another third party :(, Third party connection to MIS over Internet – DPA issues?, Loss of internet connectivity would result in no use within school, yearly SLA’s for online hosting – as the system grows so too does the costing model. What happens if you want to move provider – how can you migrate all your data and information from the remote system to the new one (this is something I don’t think the market has really got to grips with yet)

At Costello we went for a locally hosted solution (FROG). We decided upon this route for a number of reasons:

  • We have the technical support in house to manage the system
  • We have ample amount of upstream bandwidth to support the delivery of content out to students when accessing remotely
  • The server sitting on our LAN increases resilience (if we ever lose Internet access we do not lose our learning platform)
  • Server sitting on our LAN increases performance when accessed locally (I.e. during lessons)
  • MIS integration is kept onsite behind our own firewall
  • No data is being stored by a third party – as would be the case in a remotely hosted solution
  • We are in control of data storage – need more storage, add more hard drives!
  • No ‘hidden’ costs that would be incurred as in remotely stored solutions (no per GB storage charges)
  • Easy to migrate data should we wever decide to go down a different path and move away from our current provider. In light of where we are and what we have I really cannot see this happening at all!

I hope that this may have opened a few questions for all those going through procurement to consider – this does warrant serious discussion in your own schools. You have to think strategically about what is right for you – in my opinion the biggest driving factor are the internal support mechanisms that you have in place to support a system. If they are strong, resilient and have spare capacity then considering a locally hosted solution may well be the right decision for you to take.

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