Cloud busting in lockdown
Cloud busting in lockdown

Cloud busting in lockdown

In accessible language. Do we move to the cloud?

Can your system take the strain? Does your school or organisation have any emotional and professional capacity available, to take advantage of this unique, time sensitive opportunity whilst the momentum is with you? Time to reconsider on-premise services.

MAT CEO’s, School Leaders, federated schools, charities leaders, if you are hesitant to say no, then make the move now. Below are five convincing reasons to consider: Improved productivity and reduced workload. Improved teaching. Improved learning. Cost saving and better value for money. Business securities.

Improved productivity and reduced workload

Collaboration will realise operational efficiencies (both time and staffing) as well as release staff potential (divergent and creative) as a result of the shared or hive-thinking that working collaboratively offers. The potential for greater openness reduces the necessity for close management (releasing time) and yet also increasing those informed #eyesonhandsoff. A broader, accessible view of all schools within the groups and potential for collaboration between them. Greater continuity between and transition to-from schools.

Improved teaching

I have written extensively on the opportunities for teaching. The lion share of the opportunities arrives as a result of the above. Second, there are significant pedagogical opportunities presented to teachers when working in the cloud.

Improved learning

Connected with teachers, with other learners in and beyond school, with advisors, with parents eye-on, with information… with solutions. There is enormous education potential for the leadership of teaching and learning, for teaching and learning in both blended and remote settings – both in preparation for and after the September restart.

Cost saving and better value for money

The most significant by far and most sensitive. Reducing staffing and increasing staff time. Amplified across a group of schools.

  • Reducing licensing, identity management, hardware, power and cooling costs
  • Reduced printing costs
  • Reduced and flatter capital refresh costs and commitments
  • Remote working reduces costs, increases productivity time and flexibility
  • And we have not included classroom hardware options and savings

Business securities

  • Data integrity, security is maintained and accessibility improved (including device management)
  • Mitigates the risk of files or data lost

Cost and return on investment

The financial commitment is low. The costs are largely the cost of change. The savings have been highlighted.

I want to acknowledge that the first step we need to take is also one of the most difficult. The requirement to recognise and unlearn “how we worked” and re-think a new way, a cloud-thinking way, of working. Then to relearn how to work this new-way.

It is essentially a change management process. Generating an awareness and desire for a move to cloud-working. Leading the knowledge of how to change and perform in the “future-state.” With that knowledge and foresight, the next step is to develop the skills and behaviours required to operate effectively in that future state (including those of the “team” bringing forward the change), before reinforcing and recognising sustained change. That requires an investment. Free is rarely the case.

Working with your Business Manager, I would safely and conservatively forecast, savings significantly greater than the cost of staff hires / leadership or redesignation to the project, and training costs, of this change management process. With increasing and on-going saving annually. With even greater savings and more opportunities brought forward on as a result of greater collaboration and innovation, up spiraling innovation and the use case. Potential risks are low with connectivity redundancy measures in place.

Unlearn and relearn

Two words of caution.

To support staff to unlearn heavily concrete, secure and robust operations, routines, skills and behaviours and then to ask them to relearn new ways of working and thinking, is rarely an easy task or simple change management process. In this case, it is even more difficult as the “future-state” itself is somewhat abstract and evolving.

Second, a move to the cloud, requires staff to relearn and adopt work practices that currently exist at the core of their professional lives, influencing how, where and when we work, and with whom we work, replacing them within a more agile, flexible more open ways of working. We are asking a lot of our staff.

To tempt you, to tempt staff, I plan to share a handful of collaborative worked examples that demonstrate what might be possible in the “future-state” and that might resonate with your organisation and staff.

First up for review – Motivating and shortening meetings

This post aligns with the Dfe guidance: Moving your school to the cloud, published 3 April 2019 and was drafted with the experience of migrating four schools to the cloud. The first in 2013, the second in 2016, both multi-tenancy Microsoft projects. The third in 2019, a multi-tenancy project for an all-through, co-located Primary and Secondary school, and currently, for a school responding to the demands of remote learning, employing both Microsoft and Google infrastructure.

Our current experiences of remote learning and the invasion of cloud services into the home (Netflix, Spotify, Alexa) supports this adoption.

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