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Colorado schools CIO highlights benefits of moving IT operations to the cloud

Boulder Valley schools IT chief Andrew Moore outlines his latest edtech initiatives and how the cloud is helping to shift the district’s focus from hardware to software.

Wyatt Kash
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Wyatt Kash Vice President - Content Strategy

Wyatt Kash is an award-winning editor and journalist who has been following government IT trends for the past decade. He joined Scoop News Group in...

Boulder Valley School District CIO Andrew Moore hardly needs to be sold on the value of cloud computing: The Colorado school district moved its school information system to the cloud a year and a half ago and its enterprise resource planning system to the cloud more than five years ago.

The advantages he sees in moving to the cloud — reduced downtime, easier upgrades and better overall security — have motivated him to keep moving more of the district’s IT operations to the cloud. In turn, that’s freeing up his 50-member edtech staff to devote more time to helping the district’s 4,500 teachers and staff — and 30,000 students — with learning applications.

“We’re really going from a hardware support model to a software support model,” he said in an interview with EdScoop during last month’s annual CoSN conference.

In the interview, Moore describes why “moving to the cloud is 90 percent change management and 10 percent physical" and why operating in the cloud also significantly improves the district’s cybersecurity posture.

View more of EdScoop's interviews with innovative school CIOs.

Moore's latest initiative involves decommissioning 120 servers and closing down the district’s two data centers, located within two of the district's high schools.

“I’ll be pulling the plug on our SAN [storage area network], which is where all these servers used to run, we’ll shrink the footprint of our existing data center, which means less power … and air conditioning, less battery backup,” he said. “I want to focus the limited resources I have into the classroom and the hands of the teachers, and the more behind-the-scenes [work] into the hands of other professionals.”

Moore also is in the middle of the district’s “One-to-Web” program, “which provides a Chromebook to all incoming freshman at our high school level.” The program is expanding down to Boulder’s middle schools this year, he said.

“The beautify of that is with every student having a device, the teachers can really start to transition the way they teach in this digital world … and use more online resources,” he said.

The rising use of Chromebooks, which now number 20,000 devices across the district, and the diminishing reliance on Windows devices, he said, has meant that his field support team is no longer spending the amount of time it once did changing motherboards and hard drives, he said. “That’s giving us more time to retrain our field team in the software our teachers are using,” he said.

Reach the reporter at wyatt.kash@ScoopNewsGroup.com and follow him on Twitter @wyattkash and @edscoop_news.

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