This blog post has been provided by Andrew Manning of TME South West. TME have over 20 years of experience building and maintaining IT solutions solely to education. They work in schools every day and completely understand what schools need from their system to support both management and the curriculum. You can find out more about TME on their website or by following them on Twitter.

One of the biggest challenges in schools is data. Not for the system admins needing to manage and store it, but the fact that users always want it, always need it and more importantly have to have it available on any device.

Files, Data, Documents, call them what you like. Educations run on them and we find our self in a world where we would be lost without them. Everyone needs their data and they always need it now. Whether it’s a Bank Holiday, the middle of the night or even Christmas Day! It’s been this way ever since I was at school. Back then homework went back and forth from school to home on floppy disks. College was the same but we used CDs instead. Then came USB sticks but by this time Viruses were at large and most establishments locked down their use.

The proposed answer was the rise of the VLE and they were supposed to help bridge the gap between working from home and working at school but many failed. Logging on online, downloading the document, editing it and then uploading it again made the whole process time consuming and slow. Most VLEs were over hyped and promised more features than anyone actually really wanted, really needed and to top it off often confused users. Users just want to get to their files as easily as I do when logged in on a domain joined machine.

For Staff VPNs were created. DirectAccess made things just work but the sacrifice was that you could only do this on your school owned device. With most schools deciding not to fund machines that were taken home, DirectAccess wasn’t for everyone.

Then Microsoft (and Google for that matter) offered a service that nothing could beat. They basically offered unlimited online storage (OK not unlimited but 1TB is enough for anyone) for free – and gave you the tools to use it.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint all available in the browser. With the rise of Multi Academy Trust the need to share data is greater than ever. Most schools by now have adopted either Office 365 or Google Apps for Education and they see these free services as an ideal storage location for files. Expensive WAN solution are a thing of the past when cloud based storage is free and just as fast.

The ability to access your files from any location on any device finally resolved the problem of giving users access to their files  – or did it?

Yes OneDrive is great. Yes Sharepoint Sites are awesome (and yes all the other Office 365 bits rock) but does it really address the problem of letting me at my files. I have to login to the computer, sign in to Office 365, go to OneDrive and then finally find what I want to work on. And Sharepoint can be even harder if you don’t actually know what you are looking for or what Site it is stored on.

That’s why the IAM Cloud platform has been such a huge success for our customers.

Cloud Drive Mapper give us the ability to create a network drive directly to OneDrive or SharePoint. It means that staff and pupils no longer need to learn anything new. For years they have been saving to a network drive and now with Cloud Drive Mapper they can carry on doing so. The drives can be created to replicate the layout of the current local server but yet maximise some of the more desirable features of Office 365 like co-authoring and version history. In short, users just get it!

Cloud Drive Mapper can even be installed on personal devices, or run directly from a USB stick, allowing the users to continue working ‘normally’. Yet through all of this the security and location of the data can be trusted.

With Smart Links we can give users direct URLs to any website or Sharepoint app. Custom URLs can send pupils directly to OneNote Class Notebook, send staff directly to the staff portal and send the central finance team directly to the Sites most important to them. Single Sign On works seamlessly to ensure the users doesn’t waste any time having to manually sign in at all – not even once – after signing into Windows

So if don’t think Office 365 is the solution for your data need, take a look at IAM Cloud in action to see how simple it can be. Take the test, signup for a trial and let the team show you everything they really can do!

About Leon

Leon is a Director at IAM Cloud with nearly 10 years of experience working in and with the education sector. Leon is a major advocate for the role of education in society, health and economic growth.

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