Adapting to a new digital world with the same resource constraints
When it comes to updating aging technology and embracing a new digital world, educational institutions are faced with the same pressures as commercial businesses. Today’s users—especially younger generations—demand digital experiences that are simple, fast and mobile.
Yet, many education-based organizations across both higher education and K-12 are struggling to keep up with these new expectations. This is largely due to the fact that many are under-resourced and consequently forced to continue operating with legacy technology systems. Additionally, education IT teams are often understaffed and don’t have the expertise needed to manage newer IT solutions. Interestingly, both obstacles stem from a lack of resources and budget.
In the CoSN 2018 K-12 IT Leadership Survey, K-12 IT leaders for the fourth consecutive year cited “budget constraints and lack of resources” as their No. 1 challenge.1 More than 50% of the survey respondents said budgets do not “allocate the financial resources to hire the personnel needed to support the tech assets that have already been purchased.”
In higher education, more than two-thirds of IT leaders at colleges and universities said their IT budgets have not yet recovered from the 2008 recession, when many institutions experienced sweeping cuts, according to the 2018 Campus Computing Survey.2 Moreover, 79% of respondents said their campus had “a difficult time retaining IT talent because salaries and benefits are not competitive with off-campus job opportunities.”
Modernizing IT can help educational institutions overcome challenges
Given these challenges, IT leaders in the education field need to take a more calculated and less disruptive approach to IT modernization. They play a vital role in ensuring that their institutions modernize learning environments to better prepare students for the future.
The good news is that embracing new technologies can actually help address these issues, despite the limitations on staff and resources. Modernizing IT can reduce costs through improving efficiencies. For example, software-defined solutions that utilize automation to minimize manual processes can help reduce pressure on IT staff by making it easier to support users as well as reduce ongoing operating expenses.
Another example is using hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) to deploy a specific application or use case, such as virtual desktop infrastructure. This accelerates deployment, simplifies management and reduces both operational and capital expenditures. With the right solution, HCI can be a simple path to hybrid cloud, seamlessly integrating with the rest of your infrastructure.
Taking a page from educational institutions paving the way for IT modernization
University of San Diego. A university known for its academic excellence and leadership, USD sought to keep up with the changing needs of students, faculty and researchers. The ideal solution would ensure availability, enhance responsiveness, foster innovation and achieve disaster avoidance.
The university adopted new flash-optimized converged and hyper-converged infrastructure across its four campus data centers and off-campus disaster avoidance site. Solution benefits included:
- A 50% reduction in implementation costs.
- The ability to run four times more solutions in its private cloud versus a comparable cost in the public cloud.
- Significant reductions in ongoing operational costs by cutting power consumption and cooling expenses.
Hutto Independent School District. Hutto ISD is one of the fastest growing K-12 districts in Texas, with its population increasing from 1,000 to 7,000 in the past decade. The district sought to modernize networking and Wi-Fi capabilities to enable a more effective digital classroom. Moving to a more efficient networking vendor resulted in savings of 70% versus the incumbent switching vendor. The district also added important security capabilities to its surveillance and automated door-lock systems. The key benefits included:
- Increased teacher adoption and improved return on investment due to a simplified model.
- Fast Wi-Fi for every student and teacher in every class.
- A 50% reduction in classroom technology spending, with greater usage than before.
Lynbrook Union Free School District. On Long Island, New York, Lynbrook Union Free School district supports nearly 3,000 students. When the district expanded its 1:1 laptop initiative from middle school to high school, it needed to modernize its infrastructure to support increased digital content and teaching innovation. By transitioning to a converged infrastructure, the district was able to achieve significant savings in costs and efficiencies. Benefits included:
- Increased manageability and efficient backup, consolidating management from 14 different servers to managing from a single console.
- Significant reductions in network switches, cabling and power consumption.
- Reduced virtual server setup time, leading to more digital content and software tools for teachers and students.
IT decision-makers in the education space can’t afford to take a complacent approach to IT modernization and digital transformation because of higher expectations across the board—parents, teachers, administrators and especially students.