Hot technology trends in higher education

Enabling Data Center Consolidation

Large universities and small colleges alike can often seem like their own mini-governments: Each school, division, and department within any given institution has grown its own IT, and has dedicated resources and staff to maintain that infrastructure. But like in the Federal government, consolidation makes tremendous sense, from both a budget savings standpoint and in many cases even to free up precious physical space in campus buildings.

Shifting their environments to cloud based technology; whether public, private or, of particular interest in higher education, hybrid clouds; allows these institutions to enable high availability and improves resiliency and disaster recovery by using multiple providers. And cost efficiency is achieved through competition. Schools with multiple IT environments are moving to a centralized approach and seeing significant cost savings, especially when one factors in the scalability and flexibility achieved through IT as a Service (ITaaS). Reduced overhead costs and the freedom to align resources to critical needs within the university system are real game changers. 

Shared Services

Institutions and faculty members are leveraging open source solutions and open education resources to provide customized applications with the hope of saving long-term costs. Sharing services is cost effective because it eliminates redundancy and helps ensure consistency and quality in delivery across institutions and divisions. Within higher education, this approach is highly transformative when colleges and universities look to share operational costs and save money by working with other higher education institutions, local education agencies, state and local governments and other governmental entities.

Big Data and Analytics

Universities across the country are moving towards offering big data and analytics for their research credentials, in order to better recruit the top researchers and academics and to attract more government grants and funding. But implementing a Big Data capability needs careful planning to be successful in the long run, and IT executives need to understand their best strategies for supporting these new environments.

For example, they need to build in plans for disaster recovery. They need to have a strategy for archiving older data sets to cloud systems in order to free up internal resources. And they need to consider whether a hybrid cloud solution that retains control over some of their data and computer processes, while moving other data and functions out of their limited environment makes sense.

Cyber Security

Protecting against cyber-attacks and threats from both inside and outside the campus environment is certainly not unique to colleges and universities. And while it might seem obvious that cyber security is a priority for every enterprise, the perception has been that education has not been a high value target. Yet, the same vulnerabilities that have plagued retailers like Target or hit multiple companies like the Heartbleed virus also threaten Higher Ed institutions.

Just in the past few months, the Universities of Maryland and North Carolina have been attacked, and those vulnerabilities are not simply from external hackers but also from campus insiders. The challenge is providing adequate security while still being able to deliver a high level of service across dispersed systems. And as IT expands into a hybrid-model, delivering cloud services should include security in any discussion.