Grammar school adopts SaaS model to reduce server maintenance

Software costs reduced to $1 per student per month

Due for a major software upgrade and keen to reduce server numbers, the Camberwell Girls Grammar School in Melbourne made the decision to outsource its IT and adopt the Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

The school is the first to use the hosted Alpha School System (Tass) in a bid to reduce rising server maintenance costs.

Tass, which is a developer of specialist education sofware, has formed an alliance with Australian owned SaaS provider Emantra.

Emantra is providing infrastructure and hosting services for Tass so the company can tap into the growing number of private schools who no longer wish to physically manage the administration of servers and software in-house.

As a result, the girls grammar school can accessTass.Web, the Web-based version of its school administration software, at a cost of around $1 per month per student.

With 750 enrolments, Camberwell Girls Grammar has been a user of the client/server Tass software since 2000 but decided to switch to Tass.Web when they were due for a upgrade.

The school was also looking to try and downsize the number of servers it managed internally and the launch of Tass.Web provided the right timing to switch to the hosted version in June, 2007 and reduce internal servers down to two.

Camberwell business manager, Grant Cole, has seen immediate benefits from using the hosted software including seamless upgrades that can take place without administrators even being present.

"We no longer need to worry about backing-up our software or data and we have been impressed by the speed at which the hosted application runs," Cole said.

"It is the same as if we were running a client/server version in house which makes it completely transparent to our users that it is hosted software.

"Where we expect to realise the biggest benefit is in the area of server maintenance. There is a substantial cost involved in upgrading a server every three years and converting data across to a new server.

"Utilising Tass.Web means we no longer have to worry about any server issues because Emantra handles it all; technical support has been of a very high level."

Tass.Web provides schools with a student and financial administration system, which has traditionally been deployed on-site in a Microsoft Windows client/server environment.

There are about 180 schools across Australia, South Africa and Hong Kong currently using it.

Tass managing director, Ken Reid, said in 2004 the company embarked on an internal project to redevelop the software for the Web in recognition of their belief that browser based software delivery would be the way of the future.

"We strongly believe the floodgates will open over the next five years for software provided as a service," Reid said.

"We were approached by Emantra just as we were finalising the development of Tass.Web although initially we were interested in hosting the software ourselves.

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