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    The benefits of cloud-based applications for higher education

    Last updated:
    June 6, 2024

    It's been a while since 'cloud computing' was the biggest buzzword in tech.

    Nowadays, we're used to major applications being hosted in the cloud. From Gmail to Office 365 to Netflix.

    But for higher education institutions, there's still some debate over cloud-based vs on-premise software.

    We're not going to compare the two here, though. There are already plenty of articles and blog posts that do a great job at this.

    Instead, in this article we're going to explain exactly why we chose to make Full Fabric a cloud-based app. In particular, why we decided to use Amazon's AWS hosting.

    This is what we're going to cover:

    • Security
    • Performance
    • Reliability
    • Flexibility
    • Scalability
    • Compliance

    By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of why we build a cloud-based application. And you'll have a better understanding of the benefits of the technology.

    What does cloud-based mean?

    You probably already have a decent idea of what cloud-based means, but here's a quick summary just in case.

    At its core, a cloud-based application is one that runs on the internet instead of being confined to a local computer or network. This means that instead of having to install Full Fabric on each device or maintain a dedicated server on campus, the application is hosted on remote servers.

    These servers are managed by a service provider — in our case AWS — and can be accessed over the internet.

    For higher education institutions, this setup is useful because it allows students, faculty, and administrative staff to access the application and their data from anywhere, at any time (provided they have an internet connection).

    Want to see if Full Fabric is a good fit for your institution? Schedule a free demo to see how Full Fabric helps you deliver a world-class experience, be more productive, and drive revenue growth.

    1. Security

    When it comes to safeguarding data and applications, cloud-based solutions like AWS offer robust security features that are particularly beneficial for higher education institutions.

    Advanced Protection: AWS gives us a comprehensive security model that is continuously updated to tackle emerging threats. This means that cloud-based applications like Full Fabric benefit from the latest in cybersecurity measures.

    For universities and colleges, this level of protection is crucial, especially when handling sensitive student data and research information.

    Customizable Security Settings: It also allows for detailed control over the security settings, so we can tailor the security measures to our customers specific needs. Whether it's setting up firewalls, managing encryption, or configuring access controls, AWS gives us the tools to secure their applications and your data effectively.

    Reduced Risk of Data Loss: Cloud hosting also comes with robust data backup and disaster recovery options. So the risk of losing critical educational data is significantly minimised. This is particularly important for higher education, where the loss of research data or student records could have severe consequences.

    Scalable Security: As we get more customers, and the institutions grow, AWS's security measures will scale with us. This ensures that security remains tight as more users access the system and as more data is stored, without requiring a proportional increase in security resources or expenses.

    Related Guide: Developing in-house vs off-the-shelf software solutions

    2. Performance

    Cloud hosting can have a significant impact on the performance of applications. This is crucial for higher education institutions that rely on these applications for various administrative, teaching, and learning activities.

    Scalable Resources: AWS provides scalable computing resources, meaning higher education institutions can easily adjust their capacity based on current needs. During peak times, such as enrollment periods or exam seasons, resources will automatically scale up to ensure smooth application performance.

    Global Infrastructure: Using a global network of data centres also ensures that applications can be hosted physically closer to end-users. For universities and colleges with a diverse student body, including international students, this means faster access to applications and data, regardless of where students or faculty are located.

    Optimised Load Times: AWS also provides advanced technology designed to reduce load times. It can store copies of app data in multiple locations worldwide, ensuring users access the data from the nearest server. This is particularly beneficial for delivering multimedia educational content swiftly and efficiently.

    Enhanced Data Processing: Cloud service providers give us powerful computing options that can handle complex data processing tasks quickly. This is great for us, because it means we can create more advanced features and functionality without worrying that the hosting can't take it.

    Related Article: The Benefits of Investing in Software for Higher Education

    3. Reliability

    Reliability is hugely important for higher education institutions, especially in the day-to-day-use. Cloud hosting significantly enhances the reliability of these applications in a few different ways.

    High Availability: AWS's infrastructure is designed to ensure high availability. This means that applications hosted on the cloud are less likely to experience downtime because it uses multiple physically separated and isolated servers, which are connected to each other. For higher education institutions, this means consistent and reliable access to applications for students, faculty, and staff, minimising disruptions to learning and administrative activities.

    Automatic Failover: In the event of a server failure, AWS's cloud architecture supports automatic failover processes. This means that traffic can be automatically rerouted to other servers without manual intervention. This ensures that Full Fabric will remain online and accessible. For universities and colleges, this is crucial during critical times such as enrollment periods, online examinations, or when accessing research data.

    Data Redundancy: Cloud hosting includes extensive data redundancy policies to protect against data loss. Data is replicated across multiple locations in the cloud, ensuring that in the event of a hardware failure, a copy of the data is always available. This level of redundancy is vital for higher education institutions, where the loss of research data, student information, or educational content could have significant repercussions.

    Regular Updates and Maintenance: AWS handles regular updates and maintenance of its infrastructure without disrupting the hosted applications. This proactive approach ensures that the underlying systems supporting cloud-hosted applications are always up to date and secure, contributing to overall reliability.

    Related Article: 6 benefits of an online admissions and enrollment system

    4. Flexibility

    Another cornerstone of cloud-based hosting is flexibility, which is essential for higher education tools like Full Fabric.

    Anywhere, Anytime Access: Cloud hosting enables students, faculty, and administrative staff to access applications and data from any location, at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. This is particularly beneficial in higher education, where the need for remote learning tools and flexible access to resources has become increasingly important.

    Scalable Resources: As we've already mentioned, you need to be able to match demand as and when it happens. This scalability provides an unmatched level of flexibility, which protects higher education institutions at key times.

    Rapid Deployment and Updates: With cloud hosting on AWS, deploying new applications or updates is quick and efficient. This means we can easily introduce new features and updates without the lengthy downtime or complex processes associated with traditional on-premise deployments.

    Customization and Integration: AWS provides a wide range of services and tools that allow us to customise and integrate our application according to customer needs. Whether it's integrating with existing systems or developing new functionalities to enhance the experience, the flexibility of cloud-computing makes it possible.

    Related Article: First Steps Towards Digital Transformation in Higher Ed Admissions

    5. Compliance

    As you will already be very aware of, compliance is a critical concern for every higher education institution. Given the stringent regulations governing data protection, privacy, and security. But hosting applications in the cloud, especially on platforms like AWS, can significantly streamline compliance efforts.

    Regulatory Standards: AWS is committed to maintaining compliance with a broad spectrum of global and regional regulatory standards. So by hosting Full Fabric on AWS, we're leveraging a platform that meets rigorous compliance requirements. This includes those relating to the protection of student data, such as FERPA in the U.S., GDPR in Europe, and other specific local regulations.

    Data Sovereignty: With AWS's global infrastructure, we get the flexibility to store data in specific regions, complying with laws that require data to be stored within a particular country or region. This is particularly important for institutions that operate internationally and need to navigate the complex landscape of data sovereignty laws.

    Audit and Reporting Tools: Cloud computing providers include tools that facilitate compliance audits and reporting by offering detailed logs and reports on access, system events, and changes. These tools enables us to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements through transparent and verifiable records.

    Continuous Compliance: AWS continuously monitors its infrastructure to ensure compliance with the latest regulations and standards. This proactive approach means that our customers benefit from ongoing compliance efforts without us needing to invest heavily in monitoring and updating their systems to meet new requirements.

    Related Guide: How universities can prepare for the GDPR

    NEW EBOOK

    How to Boost Admissions using Workflow Automation

    The development and maintenance of an in-house system is a complex and time-consuming task. Full Fabric lets you turn your full attention to maximizing growth and performance.

    Tania Roquette

    I am the Head of Solutions at FULL FABRIC. I am passionate about education and technology.

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