MGM Wireless offers Cloud to schools

Student management systems to become available via Web, through natural disasters

IT services company MGM Wireless (ASX:MWR) has begun offering its student management systems as a Cloud-based solution in an attempt to increase availability of its solution.

The solutions, which allow schools to contact parents by SMS, communicate events and mark attendance rolls, will be moved into a 700 square metre, $80 million data centre maintained by itX-owned Web hosting company ICO in North Ryde, one MGM Wireless claimed was the most secure and best designed in Australia.

The system will move from a mix of local application-based and Web-based solutions hosted in the company’s South Australian data centre, to a completely Web-based offering hosted by ICO. The company’s own data centre will be used for testing and development. Some schools will maintain a client-server application behind the school’s firewall in instances of high security requirements.

The migration comes a month after MGM Wireless initially planned to release its Cloud products, which it unveiled in November last year.

“The new facility means that even in the direst circumstances – a school being under water due to flooding, or destroyed by earthquake or bushfire - the Principal will be able to contact their entire community from any web connection, because the application is held in cloud,” MGM Wireless chief executive, Mark Fortunatow, said in an ASX statement.

Fortunatow told Computerworld Australia that the locally hosted systems had shut down during recent natural disasters.

“We had a number of schools that got knocked out [in Christchurch], that was the final straw to move forward to a complete Cloud,” he said.

Despite a traditional aversion to the Cloud by government agencies, Fortunatow said the new offering was more secure than before.

“There are criteria that we need to meet in terms of maintaining privacy and security in relation to student and parent information. with this transition we met those thresholds even better than what was the case with our data centre,” he said.

The system from the Adelaide-based company is currently implemented in some 800 schools, with the vendor slated as preferred supplier for the Western Australia Department of Education, NSW Department of Education and Training’s Sydney Region, and New Zealand Ministry of Education. It is also used in some independent schools.

The company won a tender with the NSW Department of Education and Training to become preferred supplier for schools in the state, with the company at the time aiming to reach some 2300 schools.

It also won access to 55 schools in New Zealand earlier this year after receiving government approval.

Fortunatow said the company’s customer base had grown consistently by between 30 and 60 schools per quarter, with a mix of negotiations from the department level and an internal sales team.

The company posted a profit of $45,000 for the first half of the 2011 financial year - up from forecasts of between $30,000 and $40,000 - and revenues of $1.2 million.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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