Academy school body the Harris Federation has deployed cloud technology to link its member schools together and provide an IT platform that can scale up as membership grows.
The south London-based education group has connected its nine academies with a private cloud infrastructure using Windows server 2008 R2, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft Office Communications Server. The academy hopes the platform will be able to support a total of 40 institutions.
Academies were first set up in 2000 and are funded by central government and private sponsorship. In return for its investment, a sponsor has some influence over an academy's curriculum and specialism. The current government's Academy Act 2010 intends to extend the scope of academies.
Harris schools have saved thousands of pounds as a result of the recent change in Microsoft's school licence fees, which is now calculated on the total number of teachers employed at an institution instead of computer units used. The Harris Federation now pays for 900 licences instead of 9,000 and has used the savings to invest in a private cloud.
James Penny, ICT head for the Harris Federation, said without the Microsoft licence fee change it would have been too costly to share all its software across every PC.
"Under the previous model we would not have been able to afford using Microsoft products on a cloud," Penny said "The change in licence fees and move to a single platform have been a symbiotic process. And the cloud has provided us with scalability for growth."