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Enabling Districts to Move from On-Premise Domain Controllers to Azure Cloud Storage

April 18, 2023 at 11:26 AM

As funding for school districts nationwide continues to get tighter, IT directors are seeking more solutions for managing user accounts.

Level Data, LLC in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is the first to offer school districts nationwide a direct to Microsoft Azure user account management service, eliminating the recurring expenses and maintenance costs of on-premises domain controllers.

“Level Data has broken the mold with a direct-to-Azure integration service, which allows customers to decommission their on-premise domain controllers and just use the Azure Cloud as their Microsoft domain,” said Mike Tucker, strategic account executive of the Michigan-based data solutions company.

Tucker said for much of 2022, Level Data customers were asking for this type of service because they wanted to eliminate their on-premises domain controllers – and they looked to Level Data to build that solution.

“And we were able to meet their need,” he said. “It’s another example of Level Data responding to the education market.”

This service is totally transparent of the Student Information System. 

We can populate the cloud-hosted Azure domain directly from the SIS.

Doing the Math:

According to Microsoft information, for every 1,000 users a school district has, they need one domain controller on premise, but that goes away with Azure Cloud hosting. So, a district of 5,000 students and 600 staff members, a fairly average ratio, there would be a need for six domain controllers to serve that user population. That’s not cheap when considering domain controllers/servers and the licensing for them can range from $4,000-6,000 each.

“Districts that cut the cord relieve themselves of that associated hardware maintenance,” Tucker said. “And the other benefit of using Level Data is our managed service provider approach.  Meaning, we do the work of user account management so a school’s IT staff can focus on other things of equal importance. That translates to time savings freed up instead of buying a tool that someone on staff must learn how to use and configure and support.”

Future savings will be realized when considering the fact that most life cycles for a Microsoft server/ domain controller is about four years.

Azure is a huge collection of servers and networking hardware, which runs a complex set of distributed applications. These applications orchestrate the configuration and operation of virtualized hardware and software on those servers. The orchestration of these servers is what makes Azure so powerful. With Azure, users don't have to maintain and upgrade their hardware as Azure does this behind the scenes.

User account management and speed to learning is still a concern and this is where Level Data can really help.

Tom Lang
Written by Tom Lang

Tom Lang has spent more than 3 decades in the field of journalism and marketing, while always having a hand in public education. His father was a school teacher, his mom a school secretary, and his wife teaches high school English and Humanities. On his own, Tom worked his way through college as a school bus driver and today remains closely tied to education as a Board member of FIRST (Robotics) in Michigan. He has worked with high school coaches and athletes for nearly 30 years as a freelance sports writer at the Detroit Free Press, and for more than 10 years as a basketball referee. Bottom line -- help kids grow, learn and create productive futures.

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