This week I took part in a webinar organised by REC:all on cloud-based services for lecture capture at universities. The event was designed to give European institutions that are thinking of hosting lecture recordings in the cloud an overview of some of the things they’ll need to consider.
Each year, within our own customer base, the number of universities opting for a cloud-hosted implementation of our lecture capture solution increases. What is driving this trend? Well, our customers tell us that moving to the cloud offers them automatic scalability and operational cost reductions, and it alleviates strain on their existing infrastructure. With this trend towards cloud services only set to continue, the REC:all webinar was particularly timely.
All of those who participated as presenters agreed that as cloud-based services reach greater maturity, institutions will feel more and more comfortable using them for an increasingly diverse range of purposes. Some institutions, of course, might be concerned about hosting ‘core’ IT offerings such as their virtual learning environments, email systems or lecture capture platform externally. However, teachers and students are already using many cloud-based tools like Skype or Dropbox on a regular basis (maybe without even realising it). As familiarity with cloud technologies grows, it seems inevitable that more and more aspects of a university’s IT offering will shift cloud-wards.
While the presenters and many of the attendees were very cloud-positive, some notes of concern were sounded on topics like security. The initial concerns often stem from hosting data outside of an institution’s infrastructure. However, the frequency of these concerns has lessened over time, as institutions host more and more infrastructure and apps in the cloud, and as multi-tenant cloud-hosted architectures like Panopto are able to provide additional levels of security when compared to on-premises systems and private cloud systems.
One aspect of the cloud that was universally agreed to offer massive potential benefits, on the other hand, was cost effectiveness. Today cloud-based services have become a proven model that can help many kinds of organizations reduce costs. Cloud-based technology enables vendors to achieve economies of scale, and pass those along to their customers. The cloud also presents benefits for support and infrastructure, with the potential to reduce operational costs for ensuring uptime, handling upgrades, and other efforts that would otherwise fall to in-house IT. These potential savings have made the cloud increasingly attractive in our industry.
When considering the cloud, universities and colleges should take into account their unique setup – the benefits are there for sure, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Is going completely cloud-hosted for all services right for every institution? The answer from the European universities that attended the webinar seems to be: not necessarily. It’s important, therefore, to work with providers like Panopto that can offer institutions true multi-tenant cloud hosting as well as on-premises deployment.