Best practices for IT working on Cloud Nine

Once lagging behind in adoption of, and migration to, cloud services, higher education is pulling ahead of other industries—here’s how.

cloud-IT-technologyThere are many grim realities facing CIOs and IT department heads at colleges and universities—but when confronted with these modern-day problems, many savvy leaders are positioning their campuses on Cloud Nine.

When Meritalk, a public-private partnership focused on government IT, released their report “Cloud Campus: The Software-Defined College,” the consensus amongst the 152 IT professionals from private and public institutions surveyed was that “[c]ampus IT requirements are growing. Budgets are not.” Alongside the squeezing of budgets to meet the increasing complexity of IT requirements the report also found that, due to redundant, non-centralized IT systems, U.S. campuses were wasting money to the tune of $3.8 Billion annually.

Where other industries recognized outsourcing their infrastructure and services to the cloud as a way to mitigate similar issues shared with universities and colleges, the pace of migration to the cloud in the higher education space was slow.

Navisite, Inc— a Time-Warner Cable owned company that provides enterprise-class, cloud-enabled managed hosting and application services to different industries, including higher education institutes–, through partnerships with consortiums, such as the Ocean State Higher Education Economic Development and Administrative Network (OSHEAN) ; universities, like Bryant University in Rhode Island; and companies, like Nvidia and VMWare, –has been the tip of the spear in facilitating cloud adoption in the higher education space.

As Sumeet Sabharwal, vice president and general manager of Navisite explains, “Higher ed has been a somewhat slow adopter, but one where there is tremendous momentum building up. If you see where some of initial adoption has taken place, it’s taken place with some of the companies that are known to be leading on the technology front and on the adoption of newer technology…financial service, media/entertainment, high-tech…but I think the education sector, which has historically lagged, is one that is playing catch-up, but playing catch-up really fast.”

Build value with layering

Resource-strapped IT departments have been trying to do more with less, and Navisite recommends demonstrating added value for the same cost by layering compute, storage, and desktop cloud services into fiber, and other broadband infrastructure that OSHEAN provides to Higher Ed Institutions. The added value comes not just from lowering expenditures on IT infrastructure, it can also be derived from freeing up IT departments from maintaining and operating that infrastructure thus allowing them to build better services for the institutions they serve.

“It’s that paradigm shift,” Sabharwal notes. “In the net grand scheme, you’re not spending any more money than you were, but you really freed up your IT staff now to really focus a lot on the front-end of how to transform the business, how to unlock value, how to bring in e-learning…extending the whole learning paradigm.”

(Next page: Daas to BYOD; HIPPA)