As more teaching is being done online and more research is being conducted within and between universities, new collaboration platforms are becoming more valuable than ever.

Communications service providers are now bundling networking services and collaboration applications (voice, video, and messaging) to make real-time communicating easier, more powerful, and less expensive. These systems replace legacy “telephone” services with mobile and desktop collaboration platforms and bring students, teachers, academics, and administrators together for the ultimate end result: learning and innovation.

In fact, educational institutions are one of the largest consumers of capacity, with massive data-collection projects and a requirement to support cross-facility academic collaboration, as well as to support students, faculty, and staff with real-time communications applications.

What’s coming next

The most advanced and largest institutions have already migrated the majority of their information management, business applications, data storage and retrieval, and overall “compute” to the cloud. The next big wave is moving real-time communications to the cloud, with massive benefits including cost reduction and expense management, while at the same time delivering more modern, intuitive human interactions and collaboration built from the ground up for the next generation of users–those born with mobile devices in their hands.

(Next page: Why to switch to cloud communications)

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.

4 reasons to replace outdated phone services

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.

About the Author:

Patrick Joggerst is chief marketing officer and executive vice president of business development for Ribbon Communications, a secure real-time communications company. Previously, he was executive vice president of global sales & marketing for GENBAND. He has an accomplished career in communications spanning three decades, having managed sales and marketing organizations for both telecommunications service providers and technology suppliers. Prior to GENBAND, Patrick served as vice president of global sales for BroadSoft, a leading provider of software and services that enable service providers to offer unified communications over their IP networks.


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