Higher Ed Spending More in the Cloud

Higher Ed Spending More in the CloudResearch shows more Institutions of Higher Education are moving to cloud-based services in order to increase efficiency and save money. Most Higher Ed institutions surveyed said their spending on cloud computing is increasing, and experts predict 62% of Higher Ed apps will be cloud-based by 2021.

If your college or university has not yet embraced cloud computing, it could soon be in the minority according to research conducted by the government IT news website MediTalk. In its latest “Destination Cloud Report” (registration required), MediTalk surveyed three hundred federal, state, local, and education cloud adopters and found that 60% of Higher Ed institutions are integrating cloud computing into their general IT strategies.

The motives for adopting the cloud are interesting. Higher Ed spending in the cloud is being driven by cost efficiencies rather than by direct cost savings. For example, universities and colleges that have adopted the cloud can scale up and scale down according to demand. This means they do not have to invest in infrastructure to meet peak, term-time demand that is laying mostly idle during vacation period. Other Higher Ed motives for adopting the cloud include:
  • Increased flexibility.
  • Increased speed.
  • Staying current with IT trends.
  • The replacement of legacy IT systems.
  • Avoiding hardware costs and software updates.

How Higher Ed Institutions Use the Cloud

Among Higher Ed institutions, the most popular uses of the cloud are currently email systems (86%), web hosting (84%), and customized educational apps (82%); however large scale Infrastructure-as-a-Service deployments are being held back due to privacy, security, and reliability concerns. Around a third (35%) of respondents to the MediTalk survey cited a perceived lack of control, while other issues included an uncertainty about regulatory requirements (30%) and the lack of personalization (25%).

Due to the privacy and security concerns, half of Higher Ed institutions deploying resources in the cloud do so in a private cloud (50%) rather than a public cloud (33%). The remainder take advantage of hybrid or multi-cloud environments to keep sensitive data secure on-premises, while taking advantage of increased efficiency and cost savings when the risk of unauthorized data exposure is lower. Interestingly, the majority of cloud adopters (63%) say they’ll use more private clouds over the next five years.

Higher Ranked Institutions Adopt the Cloud Quicker

A fascinating anomaly about these statistics is that institutions ranked higher in the Carnegie Classification tend to be faster adopters of cloud services. Whereas the MediTalk report states 39% of Higher Ed apps run in the cloud - and that this figure will increase to 62% by 2021 - the Educause CDS Benchmarking Report reveals a higher rate of cloud adoption for all three types of cloud computing (Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service).

The reason why this is an anomaly is because the Higher Ed institutions with the highest level of cloud adoption are those you would think have the most sensitive data to protect - universities offering research and scholarly doctorates (DR). These are followed in order by the universities and colleges awarding the highest number of Master's degrees (MA), Bachelor's degrees (BA), and Associate degrees (AA); with Educause also making a distinction between private and public institutions.

How Higher Ed Institutions Use the Cloud: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS





DR Private




DR Public




MA Private




MA Private












 A possible explanation for this anomaly is that smaller colleges tend to make greater use of collaboration apps so students can access file-sharing portals more easily and relieve the burden on IT teams. It may also be the case higher-ranked Higher Ed institutions are more comfortable outsourcing services such as cloud storage and disaster recovery - although these services are more likely to be used in a private cloud than a public cloud.

Why Your College May Not Yet Have Embraced Cloud Computing

Why Your College May Not Yet Have Embraced Cloud ComputingIf your university or college still operates an on-premises infrastructure, it is not necessarily due to a reluctance to explore opportunities in the cloud. Migrating to the cloud requires detailed planning and, once systems become cloud-based, extensive retraining may be required for the systems to be usable. It's no good having all this flexibility and scalability at your fingertips if nobody knows how to take advantage of it.

However, as the centralization of shared services such as learning management systems grows - and these services move to the cloud - more universities and colleges will become more immersed in the cloud and follow early cloud adopters by integrating cloud computing into their general IT strategies. Then, once the use (and cost) of on-premises infrastructures decline, Higher Ed institutions will spend even more in the cloud.

 Higher Ed Mass Notification Survey

Andrea Lebron
Andrea Lebron

Andrea is Rave's Director of Digital Marketing, a master brainstormer and avid coffee drinker. Andrea joined Rave in August 2017, after 10 years of proposal and corporate marketing at an environmental engineering firm. You'll find her working with her amazing team in writing and producing blogs like this one, improving your journey to and through our website, and serving you up the best email content. When she's not in front of a keyboard, she's chasing after her three daughters or indulging in her husband's latest recipe. Andrea has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing/Management from Northeastern University and an MBA from Curry College.

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