Higher Education and Cloud: What Are the Challenges?

January 3, 2017 · steveverbanic · · Comments
A complex mix of funding schemes, applications, users, devices and more all conspire to make managing IT in today’s higher education environments more of an art than a science. Faced with the need to provide more services, to more constituencies more securely and cost-effectively, institutions increasingly turning to cloud solutions.

Higher education is quickly migrating to the cloud for a range of applications, from student recruiting and talent management to administration and fundraising. In fact, a recent survey found that 81% of North American higher education institutions plan to increase spending on cloud computing in 2017, and 60% plan to double their cloud usage within the next five years.

For the most part, the reasons for this mass cloud migration echo those of other industries, including the need to offload IT management and maintenance, respond more rapidly to institutional needs and better utilize technology for strategic decision-making. But in higher education, the cloud can also help universities overcome unique challenges, including:

  • Student-centric focus: Every university knows its success hinges on its ability to meet and exceed the needs of an increasingly diverse and demanding set of customers: its students. These digital natives arrive armed with their own devices – be it smartphones, laptops, fitness trackers or virtual reality headsets – and expect to be able to access any application, anytime from anywhere on campus. Cloud computing delivers, easing the management and maintenance of the IT infrastructure and in many cases reducing the IT staff needed to support it.
  • Complex funding mechanisms: Most university IT departments face stark uncertainties when it comes to budgeting for new technology. Funding mechanisms dependent on some mix of tuition, philanthropy, investments, public funding and research dollars can vary widely from year to year and even semester to semester. Moving to a predictable pay-as-you-go cloud model that easily scales with needs and budget can be very attractive.
  • Diverse application needs: From basic email and social networking to sensitive administrative data and even bandwidth-intensive massive open online courses (MOOCs), higher education institutions must serve an increasingly diverse set of applications to an increasingly demanding set of customers – all while maintaining security and compliance with ever-changing regulatory requirements. The cloud can meet the application needs for higher ed – without breaking the bank.

SLAIT Consulting partners with the leading manufacturers to offer best-in-class cloud-based storage and management solutions designed to ensure higher education institutions can support their complex demands, keep sensitive data secure, meet compliance mandates and keep IT budgets in check. Contact us to learn how SLAIT Consulting can develop an innovative solution to meet your higher educational institutions cloud challenges.