The Race to Innovate IT
According to The Center for Digital Education, education IT pros face a number of challenges. Chief among them (as of 2015), are:
- Hiring and retaining qualified staff
- Optimizing the use of technology
- Developing IT funding models
- Improving student outcomes
- Demonstrating the business value of IT
- Increasing the capacity for managing change
- Providing user support
- Developing security policies for mobile and cloud
- Developing an enterprise IT architecture
- Balancing agility, openness, and security
How IT Automation Can Help
Not surprising, the majority of the time spent by K-12 IT pros is around administrative and low-level technology issues, i.e. grunt work. What the real IT aces would rather be doing is adding value through IT innovation.
K-12 IT pros actually have two problems: keeping all systems and the network humming along, and doing so cheaply with a tight staff. Just as important, all these systems must be secured against malware, date leakage, and hacker incursions.
Technology and bold thinking are the keys to these bogged-down computer professionals’ prayers. Here are some technologies that give education IT departments the huge efficiency gains and dramatic cost cutting they require.
- Remote monitoring and management
- IT Automation
- Asset discovery
- Managed/cloud-based security
- Network performance
- Network discovery, continuous
- Ability to track assets, rationalize software licenses and save money.
The Security Test
One of the toughest problems, and the biggest consumer of IT time, is security. Security in K-12 is a total Hydra, a many-headed monster to be sure. Users are ever changing, device types are many, and the varied user base can’t be expected to be expert in security. Worse, our young tech-savvy users may be the biggest threat.
There is not nearly enough IT staff to protect the network and often need outside help. “The vast majority of K-12 districts, especially smaller districts, do not have a full-time chief security officer, so they rely heavily on their ISPs and security vendors to fill this role,” said The Center for Digital Education’s 2015 Market Forecast. “This is a critical concern, and schools are looking for more solutions in student data and privacy.”
The same study found that only one out of three educators are very confident in the state of their security.
K-12 has another unique problem: students, even the youngest of students, are pretty technical, and also crafty. This may be the ultimate insider threat where students hack into systems, release viruses and spyware, and steal data.
History tells us that security cannot be perfected on a manual basis. Anti-virus deployments and updates, and especially patches, need be automated so schools are fully protected. Remediation should be automated as well. Deep data protection can be done with little money or IT time spent.
K-12 IT pros need to take the lead on transforming how they run IT operations, and at the same time help revolutionize education. This groundwork can be laid with a healthy dose of IT automation.