How EdTech companies store data plays an important role in their data security. But what are their options?

Summary

  • EdTech companies can store school data in one system. Or, they can have each school use a separate system.
  • Single-tenant systems provide each school with a separate system of servers. This decreases the chance of a database-wide security incident. However, more servers equals more security vulnerabilities.
  • Multi-tenant systems, which keep data in one place, are a more secure option. They allow EdTech companies to better focus their security resources and decrease exposure to bad actors.

Data Storage 101

Let's go over some terms:

School Data: Info about an EdTech company's school customers, including the names and emails of students and staff.

Server: A system that stores data and sends it from the EdTech company to schools, and vice versa.

Single-tenant system: A system of servers that only stores data from one school or district.

Multi-tenant system: A system of servers that stores data from multiple schools or districts.

What's the difference between a single-tenant system and a multi-tenant system?

School data can either be stored in a single-tenant system or a multi-tenant system.

  • A single-tenant system only interacts with ONE school or district's data.
  • A multi-tenant system can interact with multiple schools or districts.

Let's dive into the pros and cons of each.

The pros and cons of single-tenant systems:

Pros:

  • If the database has a security breach, it's likely that not all of the data will be compromised. This is because the attacker would only have compromised one of the multiple systems.

Cons:

  • More systems creates more security vulnerabilities. In other words, more places for bad actors to hack into.
  • More systems are more challenging to manage. For example, it's harder to make database-wide changes to multiple systems. It's also harder to make sure all systems are secure.
  • Single-tenant systems require more complex software to support. This is itself a source of security challenges, including fixing database-wide bugs and maintaining a more complex code deployment strategy.

The pros and cons of multi-tenant systems:

Pros:

  • Using one system creates the least possible number of security vulnerabilites.
  • It's easier to make database-wide updates and prevent bugs.
  • It's easier to make one system secure. There's less to track, manage, update, and protect.

Cons:

  • Using a single system potentially leaves more data exposed during a security incident.

Which is better for data security?

So, there are pros and cons to each kind of server. However, one takes the win when it comes to security.

Multi-tenant. Why? Because less exposure to security vulnerabilities is key to protecting school data. That's why we (Edlink) use a single multi-tenant system.

Additionally, using single-tenant systems stretches security resources too thin. It's difficult for companies to ensure every server is equally secure at all times.

Read more about data security

Interested in better securing your app's school data?

If you're interested in learning more about how our platform works, we'd love to talk! We work with several EdTech publishers and curriculum providers to make sure their apps can integrate with all of the major LMSs.

To set up a call with our team, please shoot us an email at accounts@ed.link or leave a message at our support page.