Making tech work for education: hyperconvergence as easy as A, B, C

The increasing reliance on technology –in both classrooms and school offices – has resulted in schools and academies caught in a battle to ensure they are keeping up-to-date with the latest technologies while staying within budget.

Johan Pellicaan, MD and VP EMEA at Scale Computing, considers the ways in which education is adapting to embrace technology, the storage challenges faced by educational institutions and the most efficient solutions for cost-effective data storage
Educational institutions are constantly challenged to keep up with the latest technology developments. The contemporary classroom has moved even further away from the chalkboard and over to the interactive screens of the digital era.
Students now require access to modern technology to prepare for a competitive job market and, as part of most school programmes, they are taught technology and ICT skills from a young age. However, while expected to kit out classrooms with the latest tech, schools are under tremendous pressure to adhere to strict IT budgets – or even better, to come in under budget!

The drive for technology

The drive for better technology isn’t coming from schools alone. The current school-going generation has higher expectations of technology and how it should perform. Most students have access to the latest gadgets and devices – particularly tablets and smartphones – and this is prompting schools to integrate this technology into teaching and learning. For example, we’re seeing a shift towards submitting work assignments online via student portals where data is stored in the cloud.
When it comes to IT educational institutions have the same needs as that of a business – if not more. They’re implementing common office applications, messaging services, virtual desktops, hosting web services for students and parents and supporting more specialised educational applications.

Data centre in a box

Trying to balance the combination of tight budgets, more advanced IT requirements and the growing need for data access is increasingly difficult without dedicated data centre resources. However, this isn’t always a viable option – especially when it comes to cost.
In response, many schools are implementing server and desktop virtualisation to try and square the circle but, as increasing amounts of data are generated across numerous departments and sites, this might not be sufficient. An alternative solution is ‘hyperconvergence’, which enables institutions to combine storage, servers, virtualisation and high availability in one appliance; the correct hyperconverged solution can make managing the infrastructure as easy as looking after a single server – ideal in an environment where simplicity is key.

‘Hyperconvergence is an IT framework that combines storage, computing and networking into a single system in an effort to reduce data center complexity and increase scalability…’ [LEARN MORE]
The simplicity of a hyperconverged system is perfect for educational institutions which usually employ minimal, often only part-time, IT staff – rather than employing costly full-time and highly-trained staff, or a third-party consultant, to manage more complex IT infrastructure. Hyperconverged systems provide a ready-to-use infrastructure that enables institutions to comfortably utilise their existing staff – and make a significant saving.
Hyperconverged platforms facilitate the deployment of hybrid, on-premises and cloud infrastructure which makes information and tools/resources available both in the classroom and at home – exploiting the advantages of the cloud to provide students with external access to digital libraries and online application portals.
Ultimately, the biggest benefits of hyperconvergence, compared to a traditional data centre, is that it is cost-effective, simple to manage and easy to scale. By striving to make education better schools are also trying to make it easier to learn. This applies to their IT infrastructure too. There’s no reason why schools should struggle with cost and complexity when hyperconvergence can make things so much easier for them.

Simple and cost-effective

Hyperconvergence can have two major benefits for schools: its simplicity requires far less management from IT staff and the comparatively low price makes it a more viable solution than the traditional alternatives.
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