Juggling Act

With new content rules for schools, controlled cloud collaboration.

GUEST COLUMN | by Trevor Hellebuyck

CREDIT Metalogix.pngWe’re smack in the middle of a new era of collaboration, and nowhere is that clearer than in the educational world. Students and educators alike do their work and share information much differently than they did just a decade ago. Think about today’s classrooms, where content is in constant motion between students, teachers, platforms, and a wide range of electronic devices.

Students and educators alike do their work and share information much differently than they did just a decade ago.

Yet like our physical world, our digital world is not uniform, and no single educational institution will be standardized on just one enterprise content management or cloud collaboration platform. This can make it difficult for IT administrators to monitor and manage all of these disparate platforms. Since there is no single point of control for content management coming from within the organization, students (and instructors as well) often find themselves turning to cloud solutions that IT has not sanctioned—such as Dropbox, Box, Google for Work, or Salesforce—to be able to get their work done.

There are a few problems with this piecemeal approach, both from an organizational and educational perspective. Since these platforms have been neither approved nor deployed by IT, they lack the type of rigorous compliance and governance rules—internally and externally—as sanctioned on-premises solutions. Despite this reality, IT still is charged with managing and monitoring these platforms to protect their content. From the student and teacher perspectives, content entrusted to public cloud collaboration solutions is not necessarily secure. The public cloud has long been criticized for its penetrability by hackers, potentially jeopardizing personal data (students and/or educational institution staff), as well as educational data, such as academic research content that may be privileged or confidential.

Yet when we’re talking about today’s learning institutions, the last thing we want to do is lose the freedom that the cloud offers. Students and educators need the ability to do research and get their work done from anywhere, at anytime. They must be able to communicate and share information with fellow students and colleagues—no matter which platform or device others are using—on and off campus.

Fortunately, a new type of technology solution has emerged that allows students and teachers alike to enjoy the freedom of classic cloud collaboration, but in a controlled setting. This solution provides one point of control through which IT administrators can both monitor and manage the panoply of cloud collaboration platforms likely to be seen on any campus, no matter who has deployed them. It works via a comprehensive set of cloud apps that allow for content lifecycle management of data stored and shared across diverse cloud platforms.

Here are some benefits for educational institutions that embrace this new form of controlled cloud collaboration:

  • Any-to-any migration. Having a simple cloud-based interface allows for moving content from any type of file share solution onto the platform chosen by the IT administrator, for greater consistency, compliance, and security. In addition to any-to-any cloud migration, controlled cloud collaboration also facilitates content replication, synchronization, and platform provisioning.
  • Easy permissions management. Permissions is an important part of safeguarding data for educational users, and controlled cloud collaboration simplifies the process with a single interface for permissions management for any cloud collaboration platform, as well as auditing and reporting. The solution additionally enables content classification, cloud service management, and monitoring/reporting on usage.
  • Protection of sensitive content. Controlled cloud collaboration uses a single interface to allow administrators to quickly scan their extended collaboration environment. They can easily find and move sensitive content, provision users, and manage usage.
  • Security monitoring. To protect educational users’ content, the solution monitors unauthorized usage, scanning continuously for suspicious or inappropriate content placement. Controlled cloud collaboration backs up and archives content no matter where it is housed in the cloud.

In conclusion, it is clear this trend is not going away, it is only growing in popularity and soon (if not already) will be grouped inarguably under “best practices.” Students, educators and administration will continue to require the freedom to choose the platform that best fits their needs for content management and collaboration. To limit their ability to do this, is to limit their ability to learn, collaborate and be successful in today’s dynamic global learning environment.

Luckily, IT professionals now have the power to retain/regain control of their end clients’ disparate platform choices. By leveraging a solution that empowers IT with a single point of control to monitor, manage and protect, IT can balance its own goals and requirements while ensuring user freedom and optimized productivity. This is what we call a win-win.

Trevor Hellebuyck is Chief Strategy and Product Officer at Metalogix.

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