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Going Cloud Pays off When Tornadoes Strike (Betting on the Cloud pt 2)

By Bradley Chambers in · Experts · August 4, 2015
The cloud has been transforming for many industries. In this series, an IT Director in education shares his story about "betting on the cloud".

I mentioned in my previous article that my school bet big on “the cloud” back in 2010. I mentioned that I inherited an aging network that certainly wasn’t built for the mobile era. E-mail is a key piece of software for any organization, and I wasn’t satisfied with our solution.

We were running Microsoft Exchange 2003 and the year was 2009. I began making plans to migrate us to a new solution. Google Apps for Education is certainly extremely popular now, but it was just getting started back when I was looking at it. It’s the de-facto standard for most schools in 2015, but we were on the front line of the trend.

When I started pitching our administration on this, I got a little pushback on outsourcing our email. Some folks felt like we would be less secure by not owning the hardware. My response was, who do you trust more for security: Google or me? I certainly trust Google a lot more. They asked about downtime. Google provides us with an SLA (even thought it’s free).

They asked about multi-device access. I showed how Google worked across iPhones, Apple Mail, and Outlook. I showed that it could be accessed from anywhere in the world with ease. I got the go ahead in November of 2009, and I began the migration.

In December of that year, I applied a software update to our Exchange Server, and to make a long story short, it was down for four days. After much preparation and training, we changed over to Google Apps in February of 2010. Everything was great, and I was able to turn off our Exchange server. Yes, if you are wondering, I did take a baseball bat to it.

If we fast forward to 2011, this strategy became even more important. In April of 2011, the southeast was hit with a major Tornado outbreak. We were without power at our school for close to a week. Do you know what we had the entire time? E-mail.

If we had still been running Exchange with an onsite server, our email would have been down as well. We were still able to communicate with our employees and school families about the status of the school re-opening. We actually lost power for nearly 24 hours in early June of this year, but email still flowed fine.

If we are ever in situations where our network is down, or our ISP is having an outage, our employees know to just swap to LTE on their mobile devices, and email will still work. For us, betting on the cloud ended up being a rock solid disaster recovery option for e-mail.

All Posts In This Series:

How to Set Up Online Donations Using The Cloud And School Wi-Fi
Let Technology Help Fund Your School By Simplifying Recurring Online Donations

1) Why I Bet on the Cloud. A School IT Director's Tale.

2) Going Cloud Pays off When Tornadoes Strike

3) Can Your Account Department Function without Power?

4) Cloud making life easier for school's small IT staff

Bradley Chambers (@bradleychambers )

Bradley Chambers has been the Director of Information Technology at Brainerd Baptist School since 2009. At BBS, he manages a network of Apple and Chrome OS devices. He also writes at Tools & Toys and The Sweet Setup.