Another large issue reported by IT is the lack of collaboration with academic departments, with 81 percent of IT admin saying jointly developing plans for future IT-relates initiatives is not standard operating procedure.

“This disconnect is directly reflected in the working relationship between the two tribes,” explains MeriTalk; “57 percent believe end users view their department as the ‘fix it’ folks, and just 22 percent say they are viewed as a trusted ally.”

A solution?

According to survey results, 53 percent of IT execs say the cloud is vital to their institution’s future competitiveness; and more than 75 percent say the cloud will help improve student retention rates.

Most survey respondents also say that as they face IT roadblocks, the cloud is proving to be “the key to progress.”

“It can help transform and evolve the student learning experience,” said Tim Merrigan, vice president of state and local education for VMware. “Institutions must eliminate silos, increase agility, and effectively support varied educational missions—including compute-intensive R&D and online course offerings. Cloud and software-defined environments are the keys to getting them there—quickly, easily, and very important, on budget.”

So are institutions making good use of cloud technology?

54 percent of IT pros have migrated email, says the survey, and 30 percent offer conferencing and collaboration through the cloud. 35 percent have deployed SaaS, 20 percent Infrastructure-as-a-Service, and 17 percent Platform-as-a-Service. [For the full definitions of these services, read the full report].

Looking to the future, institutions recognize the power and potential of software-defined environments, explains MeriTalk; and though just one in five have deployed software-defined technology, more than twice as many see it as an effective solution for their IT challenges.

The reason IT pros view this technology as effective is because of the potential of primary enterprise benefits to a centralized campus; including: increased operational efficiency (54 percent), improved continuity of operations (48 percent), improved security (45 percent), decreased operating expenditures (41 percent), and decreased capital expenditures (40 percent).

However, despite this outlook and steps forward, IT departments continue to face barriers to cloud migration, notes the survey, thanks to security issues, cost worries, and overall campus culture.

How to improve

According to MeriTalk, insitutions need to take steps to centralize and support IT to make the most out of cloud technology, software-defined tech, and what the survey calls ‘as-a-Service’ solutions.

For example, 58 percent of institutions are not surveying academic and research staff on IT needs, 64 percent are not offering a catalog of IT services, and 77 percent are not offering service-based pricing/chargeback models—all critical steps institutions should be taking, notes the report.

IT leaders recommend:

  • Including greater collaboration between IT and academic departments (59 percent).
  • Reducing redundant systems (40 percent).
  • Increasing investment in key solution areas; such as virtualization (38 percent), cloud (27 percent), and software-defined data centers and storage (26 percent).

“The cloud campus has no boundary and no curfew,” concluded Steve O-Keeffe, founder of MeriTalk. “If we’re going to maximize progress, we need to break down the divide between IT and the business functions on campus.”

For more detailed findings and methodology, read the full report here.

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