May 29 2015

The Weighty Impact of Cloud Assessments in Higher Ed

For colleges and universities, successful cloud planning starts with an evaluation of IT infrastructure.

In decentralized higher education institutions, the cloud has arrived, but IT decision-makers aren’t necessarily the main drivers behind cloud adoption.

In my experience, when a university invests in a cloud assessment, the results frequently tell a completely different story than the one IT leaders originally believed. Understanding the reality of the cloud landscape and using that information to develop a comprehensive plan that aligns with the university’s overall educational goals and mission is a critical consideration.

While there is no doubt that IT and university leadership teams are aware of the growing proliferation of cloud-based infrastructure and software, when it comes down to the actual details about what’s in play, many teams make decisions based on assumptions or estimates, at best.

Many high-quality tools and engagement assessments are available to help. While assessments may vary in depth and scope, those offered by CDW•G’s cloud technology partners — which feature cloud offerings in Gartner’s upper right quadrant — are solid. Such cloud planning tools can provide information ranging from a more accurate accounting of Amazon Web Services, users or the Microsoft Azure install base, to a better view of all of the legacy applications primed for transition to the cloud. An assessment can also offer guidance on how to optimize and scale through new cloud applications.

In Good Company

Some of the world’s most influential technology companies have invested in cloud assessment tools and processes, including Microsoft, VMware and Cisco. I’ve seen meaningful impacts on business planning result from those assessments. The value of having access to accurate data — and the resulting data-focused guidance — can’t really be disputed. It’s well worth the time and investment to take a step back and evaluate the current state of your campus’s IT infrastructure.

I recently spoke with one of our top cloud partners about a West Coast customer that performed a campuswide cloud assessment, only to discover $4 million in cloud infrastructure had not been accounted for by central IT. That’s not unusual.

Cloud assessments certainly deliver value for many types of public and private organizations; however, more decentralized higher ed institutions likely will realize exponential benefits given the nature and unintended consequences of decentralized decision-making. Ultimately, planning for the future of your cloud state and the value proposition for cloud implementation begins with understanding the broader goals of your institution. Cloud analytics really matter only when considered in conjunction with all institutional goals, including financial performance and future classroom technology and digital learning initiatives.

Our team of cloud specialists is armed with the knowledge and a broad menu of cloud planning and assessment services. They are available to help IT teams decide what to assess and what services to consider.

You can read more about what higher ed IT leaders really think of the cloud in CDW’s Cloud 401 Report.

This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s new UniversITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #UniversITy hashtag.


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