Cloud Computing Play an Integral role in Education Arena

Brian Young, VP & CTO, Colorado College
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Brian Young, VP & CTO, Colorado College

Cloud Computing Benefits

Many institutions of higher education have been embracing cloud computing for several years now. From email, calendaring, to collaboration tools, many colleges and universities have become comfortable with cloud-based applications for basic communication technologies. The cloud-based application for schools will continue to increase, as the culture becomes more comfortable with “off premise” hosting solutions. As an example, we are starting to see VOIP based solutions as well as next generation ERP solutions move into the cloud. One area institutions need to think about is, “what cloud solution is right for my school?”

Make sure to take the time to study up on public, private, and hybrid cloud-based solutions, as they provide both benefits and drawbacks. The key for schools to focus on when thinking about moving to cloud base solutions is making sure their contract language is solid and their vendor management skills are strong. Protecting your data and the ultimate transition of that data is critical for contract language. The point here is, preparing your institution for the inevitable migration from one cloud vendor to another. Holding your cloud vendors accountable is also critical for your success. Make sure you are giving your vendors feedback and checking disaster recovery tests or any other measurable data points you might have in your contract. In the end, cloud-based solutions are not for every application, applications with heavy integration with on premise applications should be studied carefully as should applications that are intense on I/O. 

Technological Transformations

The role of the CIO in higher education has certainly changed over the last 10 years, from one of a technology driver to a campus leader who must embrace all facets of the business. CIO’s must be skillful in culture change, relationships, finding the business value in technology spends and being able to articulate that value to the campus community. The business sector has often focused on Return on Investment (ROI), but I find myself thinking about the Return on Education (ROE), when it comes to spending on solutions for our students. 

  CIO’s must be skillful in culture change, relationships, finding the business value in technology spends and being able to articulate that value to the campus community 

Understanding the business of education and why we exist, forces us to think differently about the CIOs role in higher education. A college/university CIO needs to understand the revenue streams, as much as technology trends, such as enrollment and tuition as well as philanthropic streams of major gifts and donor relations. The more a CIO can understand all the aspects of the college/university, the better suited she/he will be to provide solutions that help drive costs down and reinvest in solutions that add value to the educational process.

Infrastructural Investment in the Education Industry

Infrastructure investment and re-investment are critical for institutions to have in place.  Wireless access built for coverage and density are the current norm as is the expectation that an over abundance of electrical outlets exists to keep devices charged. These major infrastructure investments are not typically the kinds of projects that donors and foundations want to help fund so institutions are left to make sure their technology investments do not become obsolete and hinder the way our students live and learn on today’s campuses.  Campuses need to prepare for the delivery of 4k video content, over 5 devices per student that connect to the infrastructure, a campus of networked appliances and building censors.  A campus infrastructure with mobile digital signage and enhanced way-finding technologies, like the Aruba wireless solutions Colorado College is deploying in its new Library, will allow the infrastructure to act as a virtual concierge for the campus community and visitors.

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