Optimizing the cloud on college campuses

Because of the virtually unlimited “horsepower” available to support applications and databases, the expectation should be that the cloud environment makes for a far more agile business response.

Agility in higher education takes on different connotations at every institution, but often includes the following:

  • The capacity to introduce new concepts and technologies in a short timeframe
  •  The ability to respond rapidly to unforeseen circumstances such natural disasters or on-campus events.
  • A reporting infrastructure that can respond quickly to shifts in student perception or other market forces.

These concepts are not fully addressed just by plugging in a new system, wherever it might be housed. If there is a downside to the broad-based adoption of cloud computing, it’s that the platform itself can be viewed as a panacea.

Since some challenges are solved just with the relocation of the database, other far more impressive opportunities are sometimes overlooked.

A “well-rounded” implementation not only re-points existing interfaces and feeds, it standardizes data content and positively affects downstream systems. The impact can extend well beyond a front-end system such as Admissions to impact Registration, Records, Finance, and Residential Life.

This is as it should be, although the time and attention required to resolve issues and come to consensus can be a daunting task for in-house IT resources. A vendor with Higher Ed resonance should recognize this and present a credible plan to achieve the objective.

This is the least of what one has a right to expect. If time and effort are being expended to move to the cloud, then additional services should be investigated.

One should seriously consider incorporating useful technologies and services not available on campus as part of an overall strategy. When seeking out a cloud vendor, be sure to assess the extent to which the company is willing to collaborate with you to achieve an optimal solution that may include such items.

Here are some points to consider. Cloud-based tools can allow for incremental enhancement, though a reliable and efficient change-management process is essential.