2007 was the tipping point for smartphones and probably the last time bandwidth needs on college campuses were fairly predictable. Business requirements then meant supporting administrative offices. Learning mainly called for connecting student and teacher computers. And on game day, people just watched the game. Today, IT pros are scrambling as unprecedented digital demand strains networks and overwhelms unprepared data centers.
Things have really escalated in the last 5 years. I’ve heard a few IT pros from mid-sized colleges estimate a 900% increase in the number of connected devices they have to support.
Campus Technology reports that higher education IT leaders are also preparing for the use of robotic telepresence and artificial intelligence, and reimagining education via immersive learning through VR and AR. Some universities are setting up highly connected innovation labs to enable “experiential learning.”
These emerging, connected technologies will soon become standard and place even more strain on infrastructures. If a bit of latency doesn’t seem dire, think again. The digital capabilities of a higher education institution can impact enrollment.
Advice about choosing a college often includes “good computing infrastructure.” Research shows that the next generation of college students puts smartboards, digital textbooks, websites, online videos and game-based learning systems on top of their preferred digital learning tools list.
Then there’s storage to consider. The data center supports the housing of electronic records, online course materials and student assignments, not to mention facilitating data-intensive applications. Many institutions are looking to gain insights from the big data generated from all this connectivity, so throw the need for analytics into this mix.
Beyond education, students also expect connectivity after hours. In fact, campus IT is discovering that some of the highest demand comes late into the night when students are watching YouTube or streaming Netflix.
Beyond students, massive amounts of fans on game days are also connecting from multiple devices. Altogether, this means colleges and universities must provide a complete digital experience.
Plugging the Drain
Plugging the drain and creating a digital-ready higher education data center can start with simplifying all this complexity with a lifecycle approach. This method results in standardization, modernization and optimization which will, in turn, lower costs, mitigate risks and ensures all stakeholders remain untethered and online.
Depending on where you are in the lifecycle, you may want to consider implementing software to stay connected to the infrastructure, deploying integrated IT solutions and/or enabling remote data center control. In addition, edge solutions move compute power closer to the user.
This graphic will take your through the business case for connecting. Does that campus look familiar? More information about data center solutions for higher education can be found therein.