Back-to-school IT projects reshape campus life

The top back-to-school IT projects at 10 colleges and universities show a tidal wave of change in higher education, Reuters reports—and many of the changes could presage broader shifts in enterprise and consumer technology. Not surprisingly, wireless is fast becoming the default network connection for campus users, who typically own between two and four wireless-enabled mobile devices. At the same time, virtualization and growth in cloud-based services are centralizing and offloading IT functions. These changes, coupled with soaring video traffic, are triggering bandwidth upgrades at all levels. As students head back to college, Network World has identified six major areas of technology change: the shift toward 802.11n and all-wireless access; the rising tide of mobile devices; recentralizing IT through virtualization; the growth of cloud computing; fast-growing video use; and big bandwidth upgrades. For instance, video usage is growing, fueled partly by student use of online video streaming services. In addition, there’s expanding use of video in learning, such as “lecture capture” systems that create and store searchable videos of class presentations by teachers, visitors, and students. To accommodate these changes, the University of North Texas upgraded its campus distribution network from 1Gbps to 10Gbps, and a new design will improve redundancy. North Texas University ended the 2010 academic year hitting about 300Mbps to 400Mbps of internet traffic and expects to reach 500Mbps in the new academic year. Campuses are also paying more attention to cellular bandwidth…

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