Is it time to bring data centre colocation into the mix?

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Consider data centre colocation for schools

With more schools becoming multi academy trusts, one of the well publicised economies of scale in this process lies with the schools’ IT infrastructure.

The DfE hopes to see “far more” schools join multi-academy trusts (MATs) by 2025.  When forming a MAT, it is an ideal time for schools to consider how they operate and what equipment and connectivity they need to do so, and it might also be the right time to bring data centre colocation into the mix.

Advantages of colocation for schools

The advantage of using a data centre as part of the schools’ ICT strategy, rather than housing equipment in multiple comms rooms, is the ease of servicing the combined servers. There will be an immediate reduction in staff time, as the time to commute between school buildings is reduced and access is readily available to the colocated equipment when there is a problem. The infrastructure can be standardised and used across all schools, with centrally managed security policies. Even if individual schools have different requirements, virtualised servers can provide the platform across which these separate needs are met, reducing the amount of equipment required and the support time needed.

The ability to collaborate is one of the main benefits of joining a MAT – and one of the reasons the DfE is so keen to see more schools joining them. With centralised IT infrastructure, collaboration and the sharing of resources becomes much easier when resources are pooled, and after a long spell of remote teaching during 2020 and 2021, teachers and pupils are more used to virtual lessons and home working. Centralised, reliable infrastructure can facilitate the teaching of one lesson across multiple school sites at the same time when necessary.

Data centre environment

If an appropriately certified data centre is used – such as those in which Beaming offers rack space – the servers are housed in the best possible environment for both security and power. The security in place at our data centres meets any data protection obligations, and there is no need to maintain comms rooms at different schools. This reduces the maintenance costs associated with air conditioning and of course power bills are also reduced. The reliability of equipment is improved and security is maintained 24 hours a day, including across those summer holidays which always are a concern when it comes to theft. This should also help when schools come to purchasing insurance.

Cost savings

Connectivity to Beaming’s data centres is highly resilient, with diverse paths and multiple points of entry. This means that centralised data can be reached whenever the school needs it. With multiple sites, we can network in such a way that the onsite connectivity accesses a private cloud with only one entry and exit point to the internet, reducing the need for multiple firewalls and allowing costs to be saved on transit bandwidth and on maintenance. These cost savings are likely to go a long way in covering the price of colocation at a data centre. Once the investment has been made in hosting infrastructure in data centres, it makes it a simple process to bring any other schools into a trust.

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