Microsoft is touting its cloud momentum and announcing several new high-profile customers who've selected the company's cloud computing services: Dow Chemical, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and the University of Georgia. Dow Chemical and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts have adopted Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite and the University of Georgia has selected Microsoft's Live@edu service.As part of its annual Financial Analyst Meeting today,
The 85,000 students, faculty and staff at University of Georgia join the over 11 million students and educators worldwide who have adopted Live@edu, a strong indication that despite the common concerns about privacy and security in the cloud, that many schools and universities are making the transition.
Upgrading to the Cloud
Shawn Ellis, University of Georgia's Director of Client Services and System Administration, says the university has been assessing upgrades to its calendar and messaging system for some time. Prior to the move to Live@edu, the university had a very low email storage quota, a separate calendar system, and no online collaboration software. Live@edu addresses these gaps, providing faculty and staff with a hosted Exchanged solution, 25 GB of online storage with SkyDrive, and online collaboration and document sharing via Office Web Apps.
While the University of Georgia felt pressured to upgrade its antiquated messaging and calendaring options, it was, like most educational organizations, financially constrained in doing so. The costs of building and maintaining an internal solution are cost prohibitive, says Ellis, who now envisions that IT staff and resources can be better utilized by moving the university to Live@edu.
Meeting IT Requirements, Meeting Teachers' and Students' Expectations
While Exchange hosting is by no means new, Cameron Evans, Microsoft's National and Chief Technology Officer, agrees that moving email management off-premise is still a relevant and pressing concern for many schools and universities. In addition to the pressure to save money, schools also have to address questions of security and privacy (including CIPA requirements at the K-12 level), the management and support of multiple devices - both the school's and student and faculty's, and the increasing expectation and demand that work can be undertaken collaboratively.
There's also the expectation among university students that student government play some role in these sorts of decisions.
Microsoft's announcement today follows on the heels of Google's announcement last month that Iowa and Colorado join Oregon in adopting Google Apps for Education, Google's cloud-based service for schools. And while Microsoft and Google continue to vie for contracts with school districts and universities, this growing interest from more and more educational institutions in both company's services demonstrates that the schools are recognizing the major benefits - in terms of cost, infrastructure, and pedagogy - of moving to the cloud.