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3 Ways Higher-Ed IT Teams Can Stay Lean, Scalable and Efficient

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Opsview Monitor on Reading University Campus

Higher-ed IT teams are in a difficult position. Even as the explosive growth in mobile devices and data usage on campuses is growing faster than ever, the team – and the team’s budget – often stays the same.

That’s led to a lot of wear and tear on legacy IT monitoring tools. Many older solutions are unable to integrate with the diverse array of new devices and systems; therefore, IT teams have to look at a number of different reports to gauge the overall health of the network. This makes it hard to react to problems on campus, leaving teams to do clean-up after a disaster instead of proactively preventing it.

The problem is compounded when the IT team has to deal with a growing student population.  An IT monitoring solution built for a capacity of a few hundred devices can start straining if it’s tasked with network monitoring a few thousand. And any IT manager or system administrator knows that there are fewer more irate people than college students whose Internet connection slows to a crawl – especially during midterms or finals. Or the weekend, when it’s prime time to stream Netflix.

But how can you guarantee that you have insight into so many moving parts? And how do you find an agile tool that can scale alongside a lean, efficient team?

1. Find a Tool that Integrates.

EdTech Magazine reports that Rutgers Business School has seen enrollment grow by 40 percent over the past four years, but the IT team has stayed the same.  A team of eight has to support two new facilities with 70 technology-enabled rooms and more than 1,400 computers that recently came online for the first time.

In an environment where growth is inevitable, IT teams need to work hard to find IT monitoring tools that can encompass every system. Rather than having one tool to monitor Microsoft Azure and another to monitor Amazon Web Services, teams need to bring all the systems under one roof. It’s only then that everything can be monitored at once, delivering comprehensive dashboards that can give you a macro- and micro-level view of the campus.

2. Get IT Monitoring that’s Customizable.

Many IT monitoring tools can restrict how IT teams can build out applications to fit the needs of their individual networks. To properly scale, you need a hybrid monitoring tool, allowing for customized applications that can help fit your environment.

Opsview offers both easily configurable APIs and integrations with top-of-the-line IT software such as Puppet and Chef. For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) migrated an existing Nagios-based legacy system, along with all the monitoring plugins, to Opsview’s scalable framework. Then, the team built further applications to customize the tool for the campus’ changing needs. 

When you can build out APIs and integrate existing IT systems into one solution, you can create a scalable IT monitoring tool that can grow alongside your campus network – and all the devices, students, faculty and administrators that need it.

3. Know Where to Allocate Resources.

To ensure that the team is as efficient as possible, university IT managers have to keep track of the trends around campus. The only way to do that is to have an IT monitoring tool that can give you visibility across the network, as well as access to historical data.

By automatically aggregating all the data from the network, you can determine consumption trends, optimize infrastructure utilization and, most importantly, plan for future capacity. If you see a spike in data consumption from a certain dorm or after a certain company releases a certain smartwatch, you can pinpoint what kind of infrastructure the campus might need in the future.

A Dashboard to Rule Them All

If your IT team needs to adapt to growing demand but doesn’t have the staff to accommodate the needs of the campus, it might be time to look at different IT monitoring tools, instead. To ensure that you can run the IT network as efficiently as possible, you need a scalable IT monitoring solution that can integrate, adapt and offer visibility across every system and device.

With that kind of technology in place, IT teams will be able to create clear dashboards that display exactly how to best run the network. Dashboards full of historical and projected data about the network can serve as guides for infrastructure and personnel investments.

Even better, by building a single window of visibility into the network activity, IT will have a way to show campus administrators exactly what’s happening on the campus network. If the Internet is about to go down or suffer a major latency issue on Saturday night, IT can react proactively and triage devices and connections to optimize network performance.

Smartphones are just the beginning of the influx of wireless devices onto campus. Over the next few years, campus IT will have to figure out how to manage refrigerators, laundry machines, watches and more. Agile IT teams can manage it all. 

Learn more about the trends and technology that will require you to change the way you support your university network. Download our eBook, “How to Make Sure Your University IT is Ivy League,” to learn about:

academic IT monitoring

  • How MIT & Cornell University upgraded legacy systems and future-proofed IT networks
  • The demands that the campus of tomorrow will put on IT
  • How the Internet of Things is already impacting the campus
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