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Of Libraries and Lectures: IT's New Empowering Role in Higher Ed

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There’s a saying in Game of Thrones: when you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. IT monitoring for universities might not be quite as dramatic, but for IT managers and system administrators the saying is similar: you either win, or you disconnect.

Few forces are more powerful than a student body that’s suffering from slow Internet or a lost connection. But, lately, it seems like there’s more demand than ever from student devices and data needs. The campus environment is getting more complicated, and when IT teams are looking at the complex needs of their infrastructure, sometimes it really can feel like a Game of Thrones.

Speaking of which, HBO recently announced plans to release a standalone streaming service that, unlike its existing HBO GO mobile app, won’t require a cable or satellite subscription to access. The announcement was probably music to the ears of many college students, who will now be able to watch Game of Thrones on their mobile devices without paying for cable.

As for your average higher-ed IT admin? Well, he or she might have been a bit less thrilled with the idea of even more streaming media bombarding campus networks like a band of unruly wildlings attacking the Wall.

Technology of all kinds is making a big impact on campus, and IT admins are tasked with maintaining a network and hardware infrastructure that can support it all.  While some find it a daunting task - research shows 42 percent of higher-ed institutions find time-consuming IT updates and maintenance a challenge to implementation – other universities are thriving after bringing in new tools to expand online course offerings, research capabilities and communication channels.

IT managers have been at the center of these efforts. Here are a few examples of how savvy admins are helping schools overcome implementation challenges and empowering universities to chart new ground for higher-ed technology.

A Stronger Framework for a Modern Network

The pressure to keep university networks online has never been greater, with more schools offering web-based classes and digital content libraries. To meet demand, schools are investing in better infrastructure to prevent or recover from service interruptions or slowdowns.

A recent Time Warner Cable service outage made headlines when it impacted cable and Internet service for more than 11 million customers. But New York’s Clarkson University, which relies on Time Warner for its broadband Internet, was completely unaffected because the school also uses multiple Internet providers as a backup. As a result, Clarkson’s worldwide student body and faculty were able to stay connected to online courses and Web-based research resources.

And Cornell University – which chose Opsview Enterprise to monitor 1,400 physical and virtual servers for a campus that serves up to 20,000 students – has also recently finished a three-year network connectivity upgrade to improve wired and wireless infrastructure across 46 buildings. So when a student needs to watch an online course video on Blackboard, Cornell’s virtual learning environment platform, he or she does not have to worry about lagging video.

Building the Campus Network of the Future

Online courses are certainly one factor encouraging higher-ed IT investment. For example, the Web-based Southern New Hampshire University has increased its course offering by 67 percent in the past two years and, as a result, invested in a centralized content repository to store pertinent information for the 650-plus new classes it launches each year.

But tomorrow’s college campus will need to support an even wider range of new technology. Remote labs, for example, are gaining momentum as a way for students to conduct real-life experiments by controlling actual lab equipment from the Internet. Stanford University and Northwestern University are leading the way in using remote labs to enrich the student experience.

And some universities are making considerable technology investments to support advanced research and education. For example, the University of Maryland operates Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), a regional, high-performance network that delivers ultra-fast Internet connections and compute resources to support life sciences research throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Maximize Investments with Proactive Monitoring

Ultimately, smart universities are making proactive investments to ensure students and faculty can reliably access online courses, massive digital libraries and everything else that pushes academic IT to its edge. It’s up to IT admins to implement and manage this new technology effectively.

Enterprise IT monitoring tools can help by providing your department with a unified view of university IT assets and real-time updates on the status of critical applications. You can determine how effective your investments are operating, identify opportunities for infrastructure upgrades and proactively diagnose symptoms of network underperformance.

As a result, you can empower your university to achieve more and keep up with rapidly evolving your academic technology infrastructure.

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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