Having to host, manage, monitor, and scale databases comes at a cost. In Education there is a almost a new need to host a new database daily with often unpredictable growth and scale requirements. Image you want to post student achievement reports for K-12 or IPEDS reports for Higher Education or any other data for consumption by your in-house applications or the public. It would be nice to host this information in a pay-as-you-grow “cloud database” such as SQL Data Services (SDS). (A “cloud database” just refers a database hosted across a fabric of servers in the internet. In this case SDS is Microsoft’s cloud database offering based on SQL Server technologies across a world-wide fabric of servers managed and secured by Microsoft.)
You can have on-campus applications/systems accessing and updating this data that is hosted in the cloud. This database is easily accessible via industry standard REST and SOAP based interfaces.
I have recorded this podcast prior to the public announcement of SQL Data Services at PDC in October 2008, but still very applicable toward the IT and economical benefits of this solution for Education.