How Higher Education Institutions Benefit From Cloud Solutions

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Information is the lifeblood of higher education: professors teach it, students consume it, administrators store it, and IT delivers it. It was only a matter of time before universities and colleges discovered the many ways in which cloud solutions could assist them in managing their information overload. From storage to software services, higher education increasingly is demanding the cloud. Read the article to find out more about what higher education needs from the cloud and why their preferences are non-negotiable.

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How Higher Education Institutions Benefit From Cloud Solutions

  1. 1. How Higher Education Institutions Benefit From Cloud Solutions Institutions of higher education are increasingly employing cloud computing to achieve a diverse set of goals that encompass a number of formerly isolated campus departments, including financial services, admissions, student success, campus security, and, of course, IT. Though saving money and streamlining IT services for the campus communities top the list of their priorities, higher education decision-makers are proving that they are as equally technologically innovative as their corporate counterparts. Information Management Bryant University’s Chuck LoCurto put higher education’s efforts into perspective when emphasizing that the university’s over-arching, primary goal is to provide education through information, and that technologies like the cloud provide essential services for managing that information. In the past four years alone, Bryant has seen a 300 percent increase in the amount of data that it is responsible for storing, securing, and managing. “Information is the lifeblood of a university,” LoCurto says, “and the technology to manage it underpins the entire academic experience. We need to backup, protect, access, and secure that data.” LoCurto is VP and CIO at the Rhode Island University, which has chosen a NaviSite cloud platform for the university’s off-site data storage. Most Used Cloud Services Storage as a Service, such as that offered by NaviSite, is only one of many cloud platforms that institutions of higher education are integrating into their technological fold. Software as a Service (SaaS) also is gaining converts as higher education institutions opt out of installing software on individual campus computers and, instead, opt in to the cloud’s delivery of software and application services. One unanticipated result is the reduced complexity and increased efficiency of campus IT staff. In other cases, colleges and universities are collaborating with cloud providers to build customized private clouds that articulate with public cloud services. The cloud services can enable departments to better track enrollment and admissions, analyze retention efforts, identify at-risk students, streamline financial services, and manage security efforts on campuses. Campuses can forego installing new hardware servers because the cloud provider can procure the servers, and they can even opt to use the Virtual Computing Lab, an open source initiative that was created “by and for education,” says Ellen Messmer of Network World. The cloud’s mobile, on-demand access is especially appealing to higher education professionals, whose calendars find them increasingly out-of-the-office. Cloud solutions allow campus users to “access file storage, e-mail, databases, and other university applications anywhere, on-demand,” University Business’s John Nicholson says. “This expanded, device-neutral access theoretically lets everyone use information more effectively.” Using information more effectively can result in tangible gains for academics. The University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, for example, is using cloud-based analytics to further its research efforts. Students and faculty employ cloud analytics not only to locate researchers with whom to collaborate but also to find opportunities for funding in order to continue that research.
  2. 2. Higher Education’s Unique Requirements Underscoring these tangible gains offered by cloud services are the unique needs that higher education requires of cloud providers. Cloud providers must abide by a host of legal obligations, privacy issues, and security mandates that are unique to the higher education sector. “When it comes to compliance, universities are well aware that you can outsource responsibility but you can’t outsource accountability,” Nicholson says. Higher education professionals must be discerning when choosing a cloud provider, and their specifications are not preferences—they are non-negotiable requirements. Universities and colleges are looking for cloud providers who can guarantee comprehensive security, scalable bandwidth, and unfailing connectivity. They are demanding tools that do not just facilitate but that actually improve the learning environment, which increasingly includes bandwidth-intensive multimedia and online-delivery initiatives. Meanwhile, administrators must implement disaster recovery and business continuity solutions. Choosing the Right Provider Higher education presents cloud providers with a tall order, and some providers are creating customized solutions to meet their unique requirements. Time Warner Cable, for example, not only provides robust, secure cloud storage solutions through NaviSite—Bryant University’s provider of choice—but it also offers a comprehensive suite of connectivity solutions specifically for higher education. TWCBC’s fiber-rich IP network, strong last-mile access, promotes uninterrupted connectivity and unfettered learning opportunities when on campus or off. Services are scalable, supported by strict service level agreements, and 24/7 support. Whatever the provider of choice, higher education institutions have proven that they are demanding and discerning cloud customers. As distance learning initiatives continue to proliferate, their participation in shaping the cloud provider industry is certain to exert its influence. If you'd like to learn more about partnering with Time Warner Cable Business Class, please visit us at business.twc.com/partner or http://www.navisite.com/.

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