It takes enormous resources to power the digital backbone of colleges every day. Among other costs, universities foot the bill for computing power, digital storage, internet access and proprietary software to meet the needs and expectations of students, administrators and teachers. Expectations are high for an always-on digital environment that supports online learning, mobile apps and modern HR and finance systems.

The cost of building and running the IT infrastructure to meet these needs can be reduced with an effective cloud computing strategy. When done right, adopting cloud services and applications can lead to greater cost savings as well as an improved student/faculty experience.

Here are a few practices to apply:

1. Realize cost savings through data and app integration in a hybrid environment. Educational institutions wrestle with a combination of on-premise data centers, private cloud instantiations and one-off public cloud solutions that cannot be monitored, providing limited data security governance or oversight. This piecemeal approach prevents many institutions from taking advantage of the cost savings available via cloud computing, not to mention exposing data to security risk. One of the best steps an institution can take is to integrate data sources and applications in a secure cloud framework.

2. Scale costs related to online learning and coursework. More than a quarter of all higher education students are enrolled in at least one online course, requiring a lot of processing power from the university’s IT infrastructure. The cloud can speed delivery of teaching and coursework and facilitate collaboration. For academic research, the cloud provides access to powerful scale and computing capabilities and enables global collaboration.

3. Reduce staff maintenance time. Today’s student body consists of digital natives—young adults who grew up in a world of always-on access to the internet via digital devices. Their expectations of university services are high, and meeting these expectations—whether for easy access to online courses, digital reimbursements or electronic textbooks—requires an IT infrastructure that is adaptive and scalable. Most universities’ in-house systems lack the necessary level of power and flexibility, making development and maintenance difficult and time consuming. Adopting a hybrid cloud infrastructure can provide greater scalability in addition to reducing staff time spent on maintenance.

Cloud adoption can go a long way in helping universities to modernize their IT infrastructure, realize cost savings and increase computing power to meet the needs and expectations of faculty, staff and students.

To succeed with a cloud implementation, start with a list of the biggest IT costs your institution faces and note whether your strategy addresses these costs in addition to improving performance. In many cases it will, leaving your institution with more resources for new and innovative digital capabilities.

About the Author:

Patrick Mungovan is group vice president, U.S. Higher Education for Oracle Public Sector.


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