Districts adopt new technology each year to maintain pace with the latest education trends
. However, when technology is added, more time and resources are needed to support each tool. If one of those tools is a student information system, time-consuming tasks such as hardware maintenance, software updates, and data backups can add up. Add in the risk of possible data disasters and school technology teams can feel overworked, with minimal time to focus on students and staff.
Forney Independent School District
, located near the eastern edge of Dallas, experienced similar adversities when it managed data on-site from its previous SIS provider. For years, the district’s technology team endured the burden of handling all back-end operations for its SIS, including security, restores, and maintenance.
When Forney ISD chose Skyward’s Student Management Suite
as its next SIS, the district’s technology team jumped at the opportunity to host data off-site with ISCorp, Skyward’s secure cloud hosting partner. As a result, countless hours and resources have been returned to Forney ISD’s technology team, giving the department more time to dedicate towards other district-wide initiatives.
"Skyward and ISCORP’s secure cloud hosting service has saved us a lot of time maintaining technology, conducting backups, managing restores, and more."
Stronger Data Security
The goal of every school technology department is to keep data safe and secure. Unfortunately, when districts manage their SIS on-site, software and hardware maintenance tend to consume much of the department’s time. As more work adds up, technology teams are left wondering whether their district’s data is fully protected.
“Before implementing Skyward, we hosted our SIS in-house,” explained Kathy Kimbrough, director of information services for Forney ISD. “We had to make sure our hardware and software were always updated, backed up, and taken care of, which took a ton of time and resources away from our district.”
Unwilling to risk a possible data mishap in the future, Forney ISD’s administrators highlighted the need for stronger security and disaster recovery solutions in the district’s next SIS.
“Data security and disaster recovery are always one and two on our priority list,” stated Kimbrough. “With data breaches so prevalent in our society today, we have made data security one of our top priorities.”
Since moving to Skyward’s secure cloud hosting solution, responsibilities have shifted. Forney ISD’s data is now monitored 24/7 in ISCorp’s secure cloud environment, taking pressure off the district’s staff. In addition, all data is encrypted and backed up multiple times each day, ensuring it can be recovered in the event of a breach or natural disaster. The result has been a technology team with more confidence and fewer worries.
"Hosting with ISCorp was an important decision since cost is always a significant factor. It came down to how much time it took our district personnel to maintain the hardware and software for an SIS."
Saving Valuable Time
Secure cloud hosting has also returned time to Forney ISD’s technology team. ISCorp’s technical team has taken over the responsibility of administering and maintaining Skyward on the back end, giving the district more time to focus on improving student outcomes and advancing business initiatives. “Skyward and ISCorp’s secure cloud hosting service has saved us a lot of time maintaining technology, conducting backups, managing restores, and more,” stated Kimbrough.
But are the costs of off-site hosting worth it? New services often mean added expenses, however, Kimbrough and her team believe in the power of the proverb “time is money.”
“Hosting with ISCorp was an important decision since cost is always a significant factor. It came down to how much time it took our district personnel to maintain the hardware and software for an SIS,” explained Kimbrough. “Our district weighed whether it was worth an increase in cost to give time back to our staff for other projects. We decided it certainly was.”
In hindsight, the time savings have been more than worthwhile. Kimbrough’s team has returned its focus to students and staff, bringing the district one step closer to maximizing internal resources. As an added benefit, ISCorp is managing all hardware needs for Skyward, saving Forney ISD the cost of updating to new technology every three to five years.
"Our district weighed whether it was worth an increase in cost to give time back to our staff for other projects. We decided it certainly was."
Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst
While secure cloud hosting introduced many enhancements to Forney ISD, the district’s improved peace of mind is noticeable. The idea of unexpected downtime intimidates many districts, especially as teachers, parents, and students rely on data more. When Forney ISD hosted data on-site in previous years, they knew their team would be responsible for recovering any data lost in the event of a disaster. ISCorp has helped the district remove those fears by providing fail-safe backups for data.
“We have backups in place and a secondary location for all our data. Since we began hosting with ISCorp, this has cut down on our backups and hardware for Skyward,” explained Kimbrough.
If a disaster does strike, Forney ISD’s staff is confident it will have access to Skyward sooner rather than later. In fact, ISCorp promises districts a 99.5% uptime guarantee and universal access to Skyward anywhere with Internet access. “ISCorp has made disaster recovery a much quicker process if we do experience a major disaster at our district,” stated Kimbrough.
Joining the Movement
The decision to switch to Skyward’s secure cloud hosting service has paid dividends for Forney ISD. Student data is better protected, personnel are more focused on student outcomes, and the entire district is accomplishing more with the same resources it started with.
While changing to off-site hosting can feel like a big change, Kimbrough is adamant districts should switch if they are struggling to manage the demands of on-site hosting. More specifically, she believes they should join the movement sooner rather than later.
“Don’t wait, switch. It is the best decision we made,” stated Kimbrough.