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Cloud-Bound Tools

Some district management technology tools headed into the cloud.

Stephen White, solutions manager for cloud computing at HP, describes the company’s vision of cloud computing as a future with “everything as a service,” not just software programs. Here are some district management technology tools that are already heading into the cloud.

? Netbooks and Desktops

Inexpensive, subcompact laptops that lack a disk drive and are intended mainly for online work, called “netbooks,” are essentially “cloud computing laptops.” Netbooks have exploded in popularity with consumers, and many schools have purchased the devices—often priced at or below $500—in bulk as part of one-to-one computing initiatives or for busy administrators to use on the road. Netbook manufacturers include Asus, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Acer.

Moderro Technologies has recently released a “cloud desktop” called the Xpack, a small, inexpensive computer that consists of a processor, operating system and Web browser and connects to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, allowing users to do work online. No disk drive, hard drive or RAM is included, since they are not necessary in a cloud computing environment, making replacement simple and inexpensive and almost entirely eliminating maintenance.

? Data Backup

Districts are increasingly securing data in off-site locations. Sensitive student and staff information, financial records and other data can be vulnerable to theft, loss or catastrophic events like fires or floods. Data storage companies like Rediker Software, AmeriVault, Barracuda Networks, IBM, EMC and others offer data backup completely in the cloud in distant secure server warehouses.

? Mass Notification

Fully hosted online notification systems like Teleparent, SchoolMessenger, AlertNow and Netsupport provide mass emergency notification not only by phone but also across multiple platforms such as e-mail, text messages and digital signage, with all information stored and accessible online without requiring hardware or software installation.


? Surveillance

Cloud computing has also enhanced surveillance camera systems capabilities. When IP cameras are connected to the Internet, companies like byRemote, NCL, Video Protein and Secure-i offer online solutions that store archived footage instead of on tapes or DVRs, and allow administrators to view cameras from any location via a Web browser.

? Web Sites and E-mail

Web site design companies offer solutions fully hosted in the cloud, which make it far easier and less expensive for districts to operate sites, because they do not need to host or maintain them on local servers. These include companies like School Loop, SchoolWorld and eChalk, which also offers e-mail service and digital file storage and sharing so students and staff can continue working on documents at home, from a library or from any other Internet-connected location.

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