Today’s college students are more connected than ever: from smartphones and computers to gaming systems and smart TVs. Whether they’re attending online classes, accessing library resources, collaborating via Skype, or streaming movies, the impact on existing IP networks is considerable. So are security and privacy concerns.
Research projects, large data sets, increasing requirements for compute, the need to share large visual files and videos, and more are driving IT investments, which have now converged with what was “telephony” investments as real-time communications and have moved from “voice” to “voice as an application.”
The good news about cloud communications is that the transformation to the cloud doesn’t have to be as hard as other technology changes over the last few decades. IP-PBX, for example, can be leveraged when the data, applications, services, and features can be systematically moved into a software-defined environment.
Schools and university leaders are moving quickly to cloud communications for all the right reasons: cloud is more flexible, less expensive, more secure, and easier to manage with less people. Cloud communications are more automated, provisioning of services is more efficient, and reporting on behaviors is more advanced.
The latest innovations in calling and messaging technology allow for both session initiation protocol (SIP) and short message service to be fully integrated with each other, while also integrated with applications including virtual classrooms, study groups, research groups (including globally distributed research groups), and more.
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Moving to SIP trunking, for example, versus traditional phone services can benefit schools operationally and in the student experience by making it possible to send out alerts in the event of a campus emergency to not only students, faculty, and administrators, but to their friends and families as well as to community responders and the media.
According to one study, 54 percent of school IT executives said the top benefit of cloud communications was reducing operating costs. Other benefits include:
1. Reduced staffing costs. Work can now be done via easy-to-use, secure online dashboards, making it possible to reduce staff by more than half.
2. Improved reliability. Power outages and natural disasters no longer impact communications when services are hosted in resilient data centers.
3. Reduced equipment expenses. By transitioning to SIP, colleges can eliminate the investment in on-premise IP equipment or network infrastructure.
4. Increased portability. SIP and cloud make it possible to be in contact from anywhere at any time, without having to be tied to a classroom or desk.
Well beyond these significant cost savings, cloud communications are the platform for the digital-education future. Traditional schools can now compete with online institutions by rolling out their own virtual-learning offerings.
Cloud communications platforms contribute to an unprecedented level of agility for educational institutions, scaling up and down to meet changing needs, expanding out from the physical campus to the virtual world, and connecting people between campuses and schools anywhere in the world.