A vast majority of educational institutions across the world have started, on some level or the other, to electronically store data regarding student demographics, attendance, grading, examination scores, and additional administrative information. These institutions generally store data either on-premise or in the cloud. But which one is better? How can you keep this data safe? And what are the guidelines to follow when choosing a vendor? We will answer all these questions to help you make the best decision for your institution.
On-premise storage refers to the installation and operation of computer systems on an institution’s campus, as opposed to a remote location. Some advantages of on-premise storage include increased control over all systems and data as well as internal handling of student information. However, on-premise storage requires dedicated staff for maintenance and support. Not too long ago, on-premise storage was the most common type of storage; however, that has changed in the past decade with the rise of cloud-based solutions. For institutions that opt for an on-premise approach, we recommend including backup storage in a cloud environment. Taashee’s disaster recovery service for on-premise storage includes a rapid start-up service that is capable of restoring an institution’s information within 24 hours if the on-premise solution is compromised.
Cloud computing is a model of data storage where the stored information spans multiple servers (and often locations) and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a third-party company. Unlike on-premise storage, cloud computing has many advantages, including cost-optimized services, limited software licensing costs, no new infrastructure requirements, the storage company doing most of the work and eliminating the need for extra IT staff, etc.
Recently, there has been increased attention on education data privacy and the protection of student privacy. While this is a popular topic within the cloud computing ethos, many educators are unfamiliar with the complexities of protecting student data. Because the procedures associated with the protection of data within cloud computing are generally unknown to organizational policymakers, institutions should go through the following steps to ensure their student data is safe:
- Maintaining physical measures to secure physical locations of network equipment, including multistep processes to access network centers such as server rooms and storage area networks.
- Establishing separate network access points within campuses that segregate network access of administrative and teaching staff from students or guests.
- We are limiting database administrator rights to an essential minimum number of people—typically primary and secondary database staff such as administrators or managers.
- Conduct routine security audits and network penetration testing to ensure that the established security measures meet current compliance and cybersecurity standards.
- Establishing a disaster recovery policy that can protect data secured off-premise at the same level of protection as data stored on-premise.
- Monitoring network traffic closely to detect and block any unusual or exploitative activity.
As educational institutions rapidly shift to cloud-based storage, many vital processes are easily forgotten, since cloud services can be poorly understood, non-transparent, and weakly governed. A sizable number of institutions reportedly even have wide gaps in their cloud contract documentation, including missing privacy or data-sharing policies.
Moreover, institutions frequently surrender control of student information when opting for cloud services. For example, very few third-party agreements specify the purpose and extent for disclosure of student information and even fewer such agreements restrict the sale or marketing of this shared information by vendors. Many agreements also allow vendors to change the terms of service and privacy without notice.
Given the limited control given in some third-party agreements, institutions that are considering a cloud-based data storage approach should go through the following guidelines when selecting a cloud-computing provider.
- Requiring a single contract that includes all parties and defines security requirements ensuring the protection of administrative and student data.
- Ensuring that the cloud provider follows recommended compliance standards.
- Ensuring proper cloud database management and monitoring.
- Ensuring database updating and application updating activities are undertaken regularly.
- Maintaining multiple data centers with provisions for redundant failover.
- Diligently monitoring industry standards to ensure the latest protection and security recommendations are being followed.
In conclusion, although the cloud or a hybrid model is the way forward, increased awareness of institution staff and policymakers about data storage is paramount for ensuring data security and privacy. The emergence of these discussions regarding proper privacy measures to protect educational data will help universities and colleges strengthen their internal administrative procedures, data management procedures, and storage methodologies.
All these measures may seem overwhelming to implement, but thankfully Taashee Linux Services (CMMI Maturity Level 3 Appraised and ISO Certified), is an AWS Consulting and Technology Partner and we are here to help you out. With more than a decade of collective experience in AWS and MS Azure cloud-based solutions, Taashee is a partner of choice for many global businesses in implementing cost-effective and highly efficient cloud solutions.
For all your cloud storage requirements, visit us at Cloud Computing Services and Solutions | Taashee Linux Services.
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