CoSN Preview: Education's Digital Leap to the Cloud


Next week, I will be taking part in the CoSN Annual Conference from March 16-19 in Atlanta. CoSN, or Consortium for School Networking, is the leading association for school district technology leaders. I’ve attended this conference before; however, this year’s theme of ‘Enabling Your Digital Leap’ is quite intriguing.


When it comes to schools, the definition of ‘digital’ can vary greatly based on who you talk to, but topics such as devices in the classroom, SaaS, and online assessments and reporting usually surface when they talk about ‘digital’ technology.

All of those topics lead to one overarching technology: cloud.

The cloud can do many great things -- it powers and manages devices, SaaS programs and online reporting dashboards. So this year’s conference theme really speaks to helping school districts transition to a cloud environment. But when it comes to transitioning to this kind of infrastructure, the steps which schools must make vary in length.

Some make tiny leaps, taking years to transition gradually. Others take a huge leap and go from traditional on-premise equipment to 100% cloud in one summer, though I don’t see this nearly as often as the tiny leaps approach.

When making any jump to the cloud, a school district needs a strong identity management foundation to support and secure each stage which your infrastructure is in - whether it’s 100% on-premise or 100% in the cloud. What’s more, it also needs to support those ‘in between’ environments that aren’t totally on-premise, yet also aren’t completely cloud based.

Many school districts find themselves facing this ‘in between’ fractured IT environment, which we call a hybrid cloud system. To securely and efficiently manage all user identities in a hybrid system, you need to be able to connect to all your programs and apps, regardless of where they’re located. It makes no sense to use separate identity management solutions for the aspects of your environment that are on-premise and those that are in the cloud. Without an identity management solution that connects to everything, it becomes more difficult (and costly) for schools to make the leap to the cloud.

I’m excited to head to Atlanta to discuss these issues and how we can help. See you district IT leaders next week!

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