“How can colleges and universities minimize technology expenditures while ensuring world class IT solutions for students?

“University World News reports that by 2025, “the global demand for higher education will double to approximately 200 million students per year, mostly from emerging economies.”

Weighing the Alternatives Carefully

Cloud computing is being used by educational organizations across the world in departments like administration, teaching and enhancing the learning experience for students. Although, cloud adoption can supply a cost-effective alternative, IT officers need to be cautious and weigh their alternatives carefully.
It is obvious that there is no ‘one model fits all’ solution for the cloud. Instead of diving headfirst, the smartest action is to determine how can cloud adoption benefit an organization’s existing infrastructure. Institutions need to assess their stakeholder needs and infrastructure requisites before deciding which path to follow.

The Value of Cloud and Containers

The cloud technology certainly offers meaningful solutions, especially when delivered by a vendor who has a deep experience of the higher education industry. The key strategic areas in which the cloud service model offers great benefits are: Capability, Cost, Capacity and Control which can be termed as the 4 Cs in the cloud adoption domain. Containers are now offering AI and Machine Learning workloads an effective way to automate more in your IT and Operational workflows.

  • Capability: The most compelling aspect of cloud services is that they allow us to move quickly to new areas and then scale up even quicker. With Containers you can easily segment out the data into repositories and increase operational velocity.
  • Capacity: Educational organizations insist on serving their students effectively and efficiently by adopting strategies like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Cloud services provide compelling ways to do just that. In addition research and development institutions are leveraging containers as an easy way for Data Scientist to access and collaborate on projects.
  • Cost: Cloud services also offer the ability to shift from certain capital expenses (Capex) to operational expenses (Opex). The ability of containers to interact with Machine Learning and AI solutions allow for operational efficiencies over time, in addition to reducing errors and allowing for best practices to evolve.
  • Control: With cloud-first technology, you can implement the security updates to meet stringent compliance protocols at a quicker pace. Whether it be in a public or private cloud environment allowing the control of your workloads is a key benefit in any virtualized environment. Securing that environment is the key in understanding risk control.


Higher Education and Cost-effective Cloud Infrastructure

Technology is a strategic resource and a key instrument in driving your organization to fulfill its mission. The cost benefits are often compelling due to the easy roll out of cloud-based applications. The financial advantage of cloud computing, both inside and outside the classroom, can reduce the cost of delivering an exceptional educational experience. One must understand the skills in house and leverage them how they best see fit to align strategic goals and maintain quality business continuity.

Here’s how an effective cloud computing strategy can reduce the cost of building and running IT infrastructure to meet growing academic needs:

  • Easy and Predictable Budgeting – Capex or opex, Whatever option works for you. When you choose cloud hosting, you follow the current demand instead of guessing future requirements. With modern solutions like the cloud, you do not have to pay for the resources you do not need. Making sure you have predictable billing is easy.
  • Improved Agility – Cloud computing offers great scalability with changing demands like academic needs and new market opportunities. As computing demand rises during peak time, the cloud resources can be
    scaled up and adjusted. Thus, cloud hosting is a secure, effective and cost-efficient strategy which delivers undistinguished agility for modern education
  • Excellent IT Services – Adopting cloud strategies allow internal IT resources to provide greater service to students, faculty and staff. Your IT professionals don’t have to waste their quality time in server maintenance and emergency troubleshooting. Since cloud computing offers a collaborative environment, therefore institutions are opting to hand over everyday management, monitoring and support to the experts at data centers. This frees up internal IT staff from mundane responsibilities and tasks outside their area of expertise.
  • Eliminating Overhead Expenses – A strategy which advocates no-hardware purchase and maintenance saves money across all the areas of an organization’s operating budget. Institutions can lower the costs for physical space, overhead expenses, equipment maintenance and upgrades, power consumption and labor.

The Balancing Act

Since we’ve discussed the benefits of cloud adoption, a careful strategy and a very detailed TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is required before making such a strategic decision about choosing the right technology.

  • CAPEX vs. OPEX – Choosing an on-premises strategy requires a team of people to deliver. This model has its benefits and issues. The key is understanding the customers Hybrid Strategy and making sure that align with their Cloud Strategy. Understanding how to capitalize on the market with cash flow and when to depreciate an asset is key. You need to understand the Financial part of the equation as much as the technical part of the solution in order to make this work.
  • Implementations and time-consuming upgrades – Making the move to a SAAS or Cloud is always a long-term strategy, and you need to still run your business will you evolve into these consumption models. Understanding that moving your infrastructure standards is a huge undertaking but can have a myriad of benefits. The benefits of a virtualized or Container environments will have technical dividends at the end of the project. Understanding the most cost effective way to run your business while keeping in mind the optimized state to run a cost effective business is key in implementing the right environment for effectiveness.
  • Disaster Recovery and Back-ups – Although cloud computing does not claim to be a one-stop solution, but having your applications and data stored in the cloud can provide a set of backup instances which can be replicated to various physical locations. Understanding the application dependencies is key if you deploy a cloud strategy.
  • Mobility – Allowing access to your customers through edge computing has a huge benefit in your user experience. Enabling a cloud strategy allows for you to have your environment close to your critical users and has cost benefits vs deploying your own edge model.

Embracing the Cloud

Well, you can’t afford to avoid the cloud. To host or not to host is no longer a question in today’s IT landscape. Data migration on cloud requires an effective cloud adoption policy, but managing that change requires a professional partner who understands higher education and the benefits that the cloud can deliver.

Joseph Redwine

About the Author

Joseph Redwine is the President at OculusIT. He has over 30 years of senior executive experience in the higher education sector. Joe entered the higher education services industry because of his passion to serve and support the mission of higher education and its service to students. Joe also has a record of service to the nation. He has served as the CIO for the Florida Air National Guard and as the strategic advisor for continuous improvement of its command, control, communications, and intelligence capabilities. Joe honorably retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force and Air National Guard.