A study carried out by national educational charity Jisc – which surveyed IT and library leads in UK higher and further education – found that although 45% were using cloud for business applications, such as payroll processing and management software, 31% had no plans to deploy cloud technology.
The most popular use of cloud-based systems was for student email – 80% of respondents were currently deploying this, with only 5% not having plans that took them in this direction in the future.
Jeremy Sharp, director of strategic technologies at Jisc, said: “The findings, although they do seem divided, provide some clear messages: one being that through maturity in the market there are now a huge number of cloud services available, offering different benefits to colleges and universities. It’s only natural then that these services are being deployed by these organisation for sometimes very different reasons, depending on their needs – whether that’s better integration between the cloud and other software products, or because they offer flexibility to scale up or down as requirements change.
“Email cloud based systems in particular were shown to be popular because they not only more flexible for a normal user accessing their account from a range of devices and locations, but they are also a more cost effective solution for the organisation.”
Another popular area was cloud to support research outputs, with 53% of HE providers using private cloud and 34% using public cloud.
Jeremy added: “Popularity in these areas makes it clear that collaboration and the sharing opportunities offered by the cloud are a key benefit and driver for adoption in both further and higher education. Collaboration saves both time and money and the cloud supports this approach.
“By sharing data and resources tasks organisations are able to learn from each other, supporting innovation and quality. We have seen this for ourselves in the Jisc data centre, which has been established specifically for education and research organisations. Some of the biggest names in UK research have co-located their data to our centre, awarding them opportunities to be more collaborative and improve the speed and quality of research – for example, the creation of eMedLab, a high performance computing cluster that’s improving medical bioinformatics research.”
The study also found that 61% of respondents selected financial issues as the main challenge faced when trying to use cloud technologies. The second largest issues was security concerns (48%) closely followed by legal concerns (47%).