Cloud Decision-Making Criteria for Educational Organizations

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1 Research Publication Date: 10 June 2011 ID Number: G Cloud Decision-Making Criteria for Educational Organizations Matthew W. Cain Educational organizations sometimes struggle to choose between Google and Microsoft for and collaboration services. We present six evaluation criteria that can be used by personnel making the decision, or by executives charged with reviewing vendor decisions. Key Findings For most education institutions, the question about moving students to a cloud system is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. About half of U.S.-based higher education schools will be using a cloud service for students by the end of A long and detailed vendor comparison is unlikely to yield insight commensurate with the effort and a cursory review may lead to inappropriate conclusions. The appropriate approach is to use decision-making criteria somewhere in between these two extremes. Recommendations Vendor evaluations should cover economics, infrastructure alignment, features, security/legal/privacy, migration effort and support and SLAs Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Gartner is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. or its affiliates. This publication may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without Gartner's prior written permission. The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information and shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in such information. This publication consists of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice. Although Gartner research may include a discussion of related legal issues, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner is a public company, and its shareholders may include firms and funds that have financial interests in entities covered in Gartner research. Gartner's Board of Directors may include senior managers of these firms or funds. Gartner research is produced independently by its research organization without input or influence from these firms, funds or their managers. For further information on the independence and integrity of Gartner research, see "Guiding Principles on Independence and Objectivity" on its website,

2 ANALYSIS For most education institutions, the question about moving students to a cloud system is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. We believe about half of U.S.-based higher education schools will be using a cloud service for students by the end of 2011 and that Europe is only marginally behind the U.S. adoption rate. Assuming the decision has been made to move e- mail to the cloud, there are typically two larger questions looming: Should faculty and staff be moved to the cloud service, in addition to students? Should Microsoft or Google supply the cloud service? This research analyzes the latter question, but the answer to the first question will inform how vendor selection is made. Each institution has different needs and there is no easy way to answer the vendor question. We have seen a variety of approaches to selecting a vendor, ranging from long, laborious, detailed comparisons of both suppliers, to very fast decisions lacking suitable due diligence. The long detailed analysis is unlikely to yield insight commensurate with the effort and a cursory review may lead to inappropriate conclusions. We believe the appropriate approach is to use a decision making criteria somewhere in between these two extremes. While we examine the only two providers offering no-fee services to educational institutions, the same evaluation criteria would apply to commercial offerings from other suppliers. The good news is that both Google and Microsoft systems have been a resounding success in most cases and that both vendors will work nicely for most institutions. However, the key is to tease out the most important differences, which will ensure the best vendor fit. Our evaluation model has six components: Economics Infrastructure alignment Features Security, privacy and legal Migration effort Support and SLAs As part of the due diligence, institutions should also take advantage of the widespread use of these cloud mail systems and endeavor to check in with near neighbors to understand the experience of those previously following this path. Determining what students and staff use for personal accounts can also help inform the decision-making process. Schools can also roughly assign weightings to the six categories for a more customized evaluation. In the following sections, we detail our six evaluation criteria. Economics While it might seem odd to start with economics, given that the services are provided at no fee, there can be a substantial economic impact with certain deployments. All economic modeling Publication Date: 10 June 2011/ID Number: G Page 2 of 6

3 should be done on a three to five-year total cost of ownership and one-time investments should be amortized over the selected life cycle and blended with operational expenses. For a student deployment the line items should include: Cost, if any, for clients. Migration costs (including personnel costs). Directory synchronization set up and operation. Set up and operational cost for additional customization. Ongoing support costs (generally expressed in internal full-time equivalent metrics). Extra vendor fees for additional collaboration or personal productivity resources. If faculty and staff are part of the deployment, items might include: Extra fees for encryption. Extra fees for archiving. Extra fees for additional collaboration or personal productivity resources. It is in this latter circumstance when staff and faculty are included that the ownership costs will be most pronounced. As part of its move to Office 365 for Education (available later in 2011), Microsoft will begin charging for many services (its previous education bundle, was available at no fee), thereby dramatically changing the cost equation between the two vendors (see Figure 1). IM Figure 1. Microsoft Fees for Educational Cloud Services Source: Microsoft Publication Date: 10 June 2011/ID Number: G Page 3 of 6

4 Infrastructure Alignment Institutions should examine internal systems to determine compatibility with the cloud service. An institution, for example, that will have Exchange on premises for staff and faculty, should examine the implications of that commitment in selecting a vendor for student . The same is true for existing and future commitments to: Directories. Identity and access management systems. Student portals and information systems. Course management systems. Personal productivity suites. School-sponsored social media. Scenarios should be plotted to examine a variety of future combinations to help determine how each vendor would fit into existing and future infrastructure. Attention should be paid to overlapping functionality, such as Web conferencing coming from an existing Blackboard system, overlapping with Microsoft Web conferencing services. Features Institutions should compare the features of the educational-specific offerings from Google and Microsoft. Microsoft is making substantial changes to its feature set as it moves from to Office 365 for Education sometime in The latter release moves the company away from a hotchpotch of enterprise and consumer products to strictly enterprise products. Generally, the feature sets are roughly equivalent in the , calendar and instant messaging/presence space, but there are differences in: Audio, video and Web conferencing Personal productivity Website support Shared work space capabilities Voice services Content management Workflow Business intelligence Institutions may elect to not offer the full suite of services, so a decision upfront on what will be deployed will help shorten the feature comparison exercise. The vendors also offer some education-specific controls that should be compared. Google, for example, enables messaging control and lesson planning features aimed at the K-12 sector. Comparisons of base entitlements, such as mailbox storage allocations and attachment size limitations, should be performed here. Publication Date: 10 June 2011/ID Number: G Page 4 of 6

5 Institutions deploying Google or Microsoft for staff and faculty, should examine fee-based options for encryption and archiving. Mobile support, focusing on both BlackBerry and Exchange Active Sync, should be part of the evaluation effort. Security, Privacy and Legal Security and privacy controls are at rough parity between the two suppliers, but institutions working with internal security personnel, should assemble a checklist of the most critical security concerns to review with the vendors. The ability to access logs and mailboxes in case of emergency should be understood. Support for SAS-70 Type II and other certification should be compared. Privacy statements should be scrutinized side-by-side and passed by legal personnel for added input. Legal review should scrutinize accommodations for local regulations, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in the U.S. and support for U.S.-European Union Safe Harbor for non-u.s. institutions. If the organization intends to have staff and faculty on the system, support for e-discovery and hold requests should be part of the comparison. Legal personnel should also decide if scrutiny of data location and domestic hosting provisions are important. Migration Effort Organizations should examine the relative effort and complexity of migrating to each vendor. This exercise should inform the economic comparison mentioned earlier. Institutions should compare the engineering effort to migrate to each vendor. Generally, the estimates will be made in internal "people hours" and should focus on migration of existing mail and calendar data to the new system (if required), establishing a directory synchronization link (and single sign-on if required) and any other integration needed, such as nesting services in a student portal. Training effort, options and costs should be examined here. If custom application integration is required then the range of API support and the effort required for integration should be compared. Analysis of the duties required to migrate away from the supplier should also be made. Support and SLAs Vendor support programs should be compared and focused on questions such as: Who has the right to request support (internal IT, students)? What support mechanisms are available (phone, forums)? What are the obligations of the vendor to resolve issues of different severity? Are there additional fee-based support options (which may need to be factored into the economic calculation mentioned earlier)? What is the change management process? Institutions should endeavor to use the phone and forum support of each vendor during a trial period for more active comparisons. SLAs should be compared for uptime, recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives, as well as penalties for missing SLAs. Existence of additional SLAs, such as message delivery time, should also be examined. Publication Date: 10 June 2011/ID Number: G Page 5 of 6

6 REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS Corporate Headquarters 56 Top Gallant Road Stamford, CT U.S.A European Headquarters Tamesis The Glanty Egham Surrey, TW20 9AW UNITED KINGDOM Asia/Pacific Headquarters Gartner Australasia Pty. Ltd. Level 9, 141 Walker Street North Sydney New South Wales 2060 AUSTRALIA Japan Headquarters Gartner Japan Ltd. Aobadai Hills, 6F 7-7, Aobadai, 4-chome Meguro-ku, Tokyo JAPAN Latin America Headquarters Gartner do Brazil Av. das Nações Unidas, andar World Trade Center São Paulo SP BRAZIL Publication Date: 10 June 2011/ID Number: G Page 6 of 6

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