What is the “cloud” and why does it matter? In the world of edtech, cloud doesn’t refer to condensed water vapor in the atmosphere, but rather a large network of off-site servers where key student and financial data for K-12 districts are stored. More importantly, secure cloud hosting is often the recommended method for worry-free data storage, something Staples-Motley School District, located one hour north of St. Cloud, Minnesota, has recently learned.
"By hosting our Skyward systems with ISCorp, we have freed up IT staff time, saved money, and ensured good backups of our data."
As one of the first Skyward customers in the state of Minnesota, Staples-Motley has relied on Skyward’s Student Management Suite and School Business Suite to manage its district’s data since 1987. After a technology review prior to the 2017-2018 school year, the district encountered technology demands, which they felt could present issues for on-premise hosting down the road. By switching Skyward to ISCorp’s secure cloud hosting platform, Staples-Motley’s technology team now has more time to focus on what matters most—their district’s staff and infrastructure.
"The security and disaster recovery plan for our Skyward systems continues to be very high on our priority list. Skyward contains a lot of student and financial data that is mission-critical. If we lost that data, we would be out of business."
Staples-Motley faced numerous challenges before making the switch to ISCorp secure cloud hosting. Most notably, the district worried its IT department was overworked with data backups, hardware maintenance, and network security. By the end of each week, the department had little time to devote to Skyward updates and staff needs. The district also wanted to begin a 1:1 technology program, which factored in their decision to host through ISCorp.
“We recently started a 1:1 program in grades three through twelve. To start a 1:1 program we needed a larger wireless network and a faster fiber network. Those demands created a lot of work for our IT department,” explained Craig Waldvogel, the information technology coordinator for Staples-Motley. “We haven’t added any IT staff since implementing our 1:1 program. We just didn’t have the time, manpower, or money to host our Skyward system in-house anymore.”
Staples-Motley’s leadership found the need for secure, fully protected data was the final indication that secure cloud hosting would benefit the district.
“The security and disaster recovery plan for our Skyward systems continues to be very high on our priority list. Skyward contains a lot of student and financial data that is mission-critical. If we lost that data, we would be out of business,” emphasized Waldvogel.
Peace of Mind
Since making the switch to secure cloud hosting, Staples-Motley’s IT team is confident the district’s student and financial data are secure. Additionally, the department no longer faces the time constraints and stresses that came with on-premise hosting.
“We now have peace of mind. No more needing to think about supporting Skyward 24/7—we know if there are issues and we need to pull up a backup copy, there is a good copy,” explained Waldvogel.
The district has also discovered additional benefits, which extend beyond the technology department. In particular, the district is benefiting from cost savings and a more reliable online experience thanks to ISCorp’s 99.5% uptime guarantee.
“By hosting our Skyward systems with ISCorp, we have freed up IT staff time, saved money, and ensured good backups of our data,” stated Waldvogel. “We have confidence knowing our Skyward systems will always be online and staff can work offsite if needed. Not to mention, Skyward updates are done by ISCorp, meaning we no longer have to do software or server updates.”
"We now have peace of mind. No more needing to think about supporting Skyward 24/7 - we know if there are issues and we need to pull a backup copy, there is a good copy."
While Staples-Motley’s staff and IT department are enjoying the daily advantages of secure cloud hosting, the possibility of a data disaster could surface at any moment. In fact, Waldvogel and his team watched a nearby district, which did not use Skyward or secure cloud hosting, experience the aftermath of a data mishap
“A neighboring district, which doesn’t use Skyward, had an issue with their business and student system server. The result was 30 days of lost data. Unfortunately, their staff had to reenter all of that data because they hosted their system on-site.”
Today, Staples-Motley is more prepared should a disaster strike. Secure cloud hosting through ISCorp comes with a disaster recovery plan, taking the onus off Staples-Motley’s technology team. Each day, the district’s data is securely backed up by ISCorp and protected by 24/7 monitoring and the industry’s best security practices. However, if an interruption occurs, the district is guaranteed access to its data and Skyward systems within 24 hours from any location with Internet access.
“Before switching to secure cloud hosting, we started working on a data disaster plan, but we couldn’t get to the level we needed by hosting Skyward in-house,” explained Waldvogel. “By moving both of our Skyward SIS and ERP systems to ISCorp, this is no longer an issue because ISCorp has a very strong disaster recovery plan.”
New Systems Same Hosting
Moving forward, Staples-Motley plans to continue using secure cloud hosting through ISCorp, with one slight adjustment. The district is preparing to transition from Skyward’s SMS 2.0 systems to Qmlativ. During the switch, Waldvogel sees an opportunity to consolidate databases.
“We are in the process of moving to Skyward’s Qmlativ Student Management suite and one year later, we plan on moving to the Qmlativ School Business Suite. Right now, we have two databases and by moving to Qmlativ we will consolidate to one database.”
Finally, for districts struggling to keep up with the demands of on-premise hosting, Waldvogel has some parting words of advice: “Do it. Some IT teams like to host everything on site, but that’s no longer the best or most secure option. Move to ISCorp. It was the best thing we have done in a long time.”