Like many sectors, education is facing an explosion of digital data. As Campus Technology writer Barbara Ravage noted, information volumes stored by higher ed institutions are expected to increase 800 percent by 2016. The demand for more capacity is driven by several factors, including the migration of many print books to digital versions and new federal grant mandates requiring longer data retention.
"Colleges and universities are running out of closet space," Ravage wrote. "Unfortunately, many IT departments, particularly those in the public sector, have flatlining budgets – and no money to build additional closets."
In response to rising expectations and stagnant budgets, organizations such as the University of Virginia have turned to cloud storage to solve what Ravage describes as a "crisis." The university recently adopted a software-a-service offering by DuraCloud to efficiently store archival information. One of the advantages of DuraCloud's SaaS platform is that it works in conjunction with other offerings such as Amazon Web Services.
As Ravage noted, the university's primary concern in selecting a cloud storage service was latency. While affordability was important given budgetary limitations, the organization could not sacrifice the speed at which data could be migrated.
While the advantages may not be a surprise to most, some experts have made note of the unexpectedly high rate of cloud adoption among education institutions. Amazon's Jeff Bezos remarked on the speed at which both government agencies and universities have moved processes into his company's cloud storage offering. Reporting on Amazon's recent user conference, Network World columnist Brandon Butler noted that several concerns could present barriers to the cloud's continued momentum. For example, the shadow IT trend – in which employees use cloud services without the approval of their company's IT department – has created negative perceptions in regard to data privacy and security.