Next time you hear someone bandying around the term cloud,
stop to ask if they actually mean cloud-native.
What is cloud-native and why is it so important to your school?
Cloud computing is changing the way we all consume and interact with technology. Whether this is at home with Netflix, or with devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, or at work, with cloud-based services like Office365, Google, school administration systems, and numerous other specialist enterprise applications. In schools, cloud computing is an enabler; it creates strategic change in the way schools of all sizes work with technology. In short a real cloud-native service is easier, more efficient, and less expensive than both in-school software and cloud-hosted offerings.
With all the benefits and hype that has come along with the word ‘cloud’, many companies claim to have 'cloud solutions' when in fact they are merely hosted software services. How can you be sure that you will receive all the benefits of cloud computing, such as lower cost of ownership, zero maintenance, frequent product updates, endless and elastic computing power, and more?
It’s important to know the difference between real, designed for the cloud applications usually called ‘cloud-native’, versus quick fix migrations of legacy code that are called ‘cloud-hosted’. In the rush for new school customers (and to try to prevent their existing customer base from abandoning them), many vendors in the school library management market skipped the hard work of re-building their applications and simply created crude web front-ends attached to legacy application architectures - C-L-U-N-K-Y!
Concord has invested heavily over the last few years to build our cloud-native library management system (LMS), Infiniti, from the ground up. Infiniti was designed for the cloud and built in the cloud to take advantage of new software architectures and hardware devices that make it easier and more efficient to manage a modern K-12 school library. In other words, there is no easy short cut to making a real cloud-native library management system. It takes time and costs money, but the benefits to schools, and to you, are worth it.
So, what are the "7 wonders of cloud-native LMS" questions you can ask to find out if an LMS is the real deal when it comes to the cloud?
How many versions of the LMS are in production with schools?
The answer should be one. Why? Because with a cloud-native LMS there can only be one version of the software stored on a cloud server and used by every school simultaneously. It's impossible to have schools on different versions.
Can the vendor install the LMS on your in-school server?
The answer should be no. Why? Because a cloud-native LMS can only be installed on a cloud server - there should not be a choice.
Is the LMS a multi-tenant service or is it a multi-tenant server?
The answer should be a multi-tenant service. Why? Because only cloud-native can operate as a multi-tenant service. If it's not a multi-tenant service, it's not a cloud-native service so you will not get the benefits you are looking for and it will be more expensive.
Does the LMS use elastic cloud computing for scalability?
You’re looking for a yes. Why? Because an elastic cloud will allow your LMS to use more computing power whenever it recognises the need without human intervention - so it will never "go slow" or, worse still, just stop!
Does the LMS require an app to allow patrons to access it from a range of devices (Apple, Android, others)?
This time you're wanting to hear no. Why? Because a cloud-native LMS is an app and it is naturally device independent - it's natively responsive. One of the great advantages of a cloud-native LMS is that all modules of the LMS work on all devices all the time - without an app (they're appless).
How many software updates are made available each year?
The answer should be many. Why? Because a modern school library's operational environment is highly dynamic, and therefore the software used to manage it must be equally dynamic. The beauty of a cloud-native LMS is that you get frequent updates - hopefully at least six a year. And updates happen to all schools worldwide at once – there are no special versions and no school is left behind.
Is the solution secure? Has it been externally audited?
You need a big YES. Why? It may sound counter-intuitive, but a cloud-native LMS is more secure than traditional in-school LMS and certainly more secure than cloud-hosted LMS offerings. Why is this? At worst, application and data security is not part of the development process with traditional software, and at best it's not 'battle hardened' for the cloud. Security is something that is added to cloud-hosted solutions after the application has been built (like adding a burglar alarm to a house).
While there are other important areas to uncover, these seven questions will help you to tell the difference between a cloud-native library management system that is the future and that comes with many benefits, and cloud-hosted imposters that come with many of the issues of legacy in-school software. In the end, it is less to do with the functionality of the service and more about the underlying technology. Will the technology help you achieve your strategic goals or will it bog you down in endless complexity and disappointment?