Like many colleges and universities in Ohio, Shawnee State University faced financial pressure from state-led tuition restrictions and a mandate to reduce operating expenses. Its existing IT infrastructure had served it well since its establishment in the late 1980s. But 35 years later, school IT leaders recognized a need and opportunity to modernize by centralizing key applications under a single, unified digital umbrella, allowing administrators to better manage recruitment and serve constituents in a timely way.
Shawnee is just one of many campuses across the nation embracing cloud computing as it has moved into its second decade of existence. Indeed, Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda Survey identifies cloud computing as a top-five priority area for new higher tech spending.
Most colleges and universities are considering cloud computing because they recognize its potential for significantly improving financial, operational, and educational processes. At the same time, many know that failing to move to the cloud could create a perception that they are behind the times, which could hamper recruitment efforts with today’s tech-savvy prospective students.
Nonetheless, many universities have been relatively slow to embrace the cloud for a few simple reasons. First, because it’s not always cheap or easy to overhaul IT systems. And second, because cloud represents a fundamental technological change and perceived challenges that many organizations do not feel they have the expertise, bandwidth, or resources to address.
Fortunately, there are ways around these challenges, and it starts by remembering that cloud computing is part of a journey to a modern campus—not the ultimate destination. What’s needed is a strategic approach that combines on-premise services with advanced cloud solutions.
Here are five things to keep in mind when considering moving to the cloud.
1. Be clear about your goals
Industry pundits will tell you that if you’re not in the cloud, you’re costing yourself money and opportunity. And you are not meeting student expectations for a fully digital scholastic experience that mirrors the interaction they have with technology in their private lives. But none of those reasons justify shifting to the cloud because, at the end of the day, any move needs to be about the specific needs and aspirations of each individual school.
Before beginning any migration, clearly determine your goals for cloud computing. Is it about meeting certain government requirements? Is it related to a need to reduce swelling administrative costs? Is it about competing to attract and retain the best and brightest students? Or is it all of the above?
Clearly articulating priorities and potential payoffs will help people throughout your institution focus on the essential aspects of the cloud journey.
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