Key Points to Consider While Choosing a Cloud Office Suite for a University

If you are an IT leader working for a university and currently exploring options to choose a cloud office suite, here are some important points to keep in mind. 

Cloud office suite refers to the cloud storage and collaboration suites offered by the tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, etc.

Leading cloud services:

  1. Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365)
  2. Google Workspace (formerly  G Suite)
  3. Dropbox Business
  4. Box Enterprise

The first step to researching is analyzing where existing data is. Is your University already using a cloud office suite or relying on on-premise file systems to store data? Whether it is on-premise or cloud, you need to look at data transfer challenges and costs before migration. 

Here are some major considerations to keep in mind before choosing a cloud service for higher education.

1. Storage and Tools

Plain cloud storage is no longer the answer for ever-growing communication and collaboration needs among the students. The recent shift in education caused by the pandemic made tools more important than ever. Check all the creative, collaborative, and productive tools cloud companies are providing as a part of their cloud offering. Microsoft and Google are frontrunners when it comes to offering apps while the likes of Dropbox are catching up. Browse the online product catalogs of the top cloud office providers and get familiar with their apps and their functionalities. Microsoft, for example, offers their popular Office apps as a part of their cloud suite. Google, on the other hand, is well known for Docs and Spreadsheets.

2. Built for Higher Education

Cloud companies like Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, Box, etc. tend to offer industry-specific variations of their suites to match specific audiences. As a part of it, these cloud service providers offer University or higher education-specific products. Both Microsoft and Google offer university/education variants of their cloud suites. Check them and see what kind of features and capabilities those cloud suites have. 

3. Video Conferencing Is Very Important

COVID-19 has changed the way people communicate and collaborate whether it is education or work. Video conferencing has been playing an important role than it did in the past couple of decades. As an IT professional, you need to put big focus on the video conferencing capabilities of a cloud solution. Some clouds are better than others when it comes to video call features, so do a thorough research before to find out which one fits your needs the best. 

4. Creative Apps

While collaboration is the heart of any business cloud suite, higher-education-specific cloud storage services should emphasize creative tools that help students express creativity and inner thought processes in a better way. Check for what student-specific tools a cloud service is offering. This applies not only for higher education but also every learning institution. 

5. Security 

As an IT pro, you already know that Universities do have critical data that should remain secure. Privacy plays an important role for any cloud storage, and when it comes to higher education the security should be much better. Check for what kind of security features a cloud suite is offering. Explore SOC and other security compliances. If you are from the EU, check for GDPR support and data residency compliance.