Ten years ago, parishes and schools had mostly self-contained networks, with a room containing on-premises servers and storage. This equipment hosted the parish electronic mail system, stored files, and shared printers on the network. The campus had a low-bandwidth Internet connection (perhaps dial-up) to send and receive e-mail and support limited Web browsing. People did most of their work on a desktop or laptop. Smart phones were a novelty, and tablets were a dream.
How far we have come in a short time! The cost of cloud-hosted compute and storage capacity has plummeted and is approaching zero. Our campuses have high-bandwidth Internet connections. Most of our parish and school software systems have migrated to the cloud. Software vendors have mostly switched from a perpetual-license model to annual subscriptions. Smart phones are everywhere, tablets are rapidly replacing laptops, and device counts on the campus network have exploded. It is actually possible today to run a school without any on-premises servers and storage.
However, our schools still have rooms with aging servers and storage. For the most part, this equipment is past end-of-life, running operating systems that are no longer supported and are a security risk. We still have a need for some on-premises equipment focused on security, administration systems and local print shares. This is another infrastructure topic that requires careful thought and planning on our campuses.
Our long-term strategy is to reduce on-premises servers and storage and complete the migration of applications to the cloud. This includes all email, most file storage, and all applications that support parish/school operations. Google and Apple are our two primary application providers, and both offer a variety of free cloud-hosted solutions for schools. Any servers that remain on campus must run up-to-date operating systems such as Windows Server 2012. On-premises storage should be limited, and focused on high-bandwidth uses such as video file storage.
The Tech Office can help you plan the cloud migration of your applications, and for replacement and upgrade of your on-premises compute and storage systems. This has the potential to cut your operational costs, and reduce the capital required to maintain your on-site equipment. We have access to Amazon Web Services, Google Compute and storage, and Microsoft Azure services to support your needs.