Sep 01 2017

Future Higher Ed IT Spending Will Be Driven by Cloud and Mobile

Universities are embracing virtual storage and improved networks.

This year, IT spending across industries will increase by 4.5 percent, rising to $2.1 trillion, and then increase by another 4 percent in 2018. IDC, which conducted the research, indicates that cloud infrastructure and mobile devices will be the source of the upswing.

“Cloud and mobile are still the big drivers for IT spending, despite the attention devoted to new technologies like augmented reality, artificial intelligence and robotics,” says Stephen Minton, IDC vice president for customer insights and analysis, on Campus Technology.

Universities are also prioritizing cloud and mobile as they update their technology. A survey last year indicated that 81 percent of university IT leaders were planning to increase their cloud spending. In 2016, 39 percent of their applications were cloud-based, but that number is expected to rise to 62 percent by 2021.

With students bringing more connected devices to campus, mobility is also top of mind as colleges upgrade networks and security.

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Cloud Boosts Efficiency of IT Staffing and Costs

When surveyed, university CIOs report saving IT money is the biggest influencer of cloud use, with security close behind.

For smaller colleges, virtualizing storage via the cloud can boost the efficiency and efficacy of modestly sized IT teams. After implementing hyperconverged solutions from Nutanix and Scale, the 10-person IT team from Clovis Community College in New Mexico found that students and staff could access the college’s file-sharing portal more easily. The IT staff was able to spend less time troubleshooting these issues.

By saving time, the college saves the cost of man-hours and staffing. The switch to virtualization also makes it easier for the IT team to recover data in an emergency.

“We now feel very comfortable that we can replicate our environment at any time,” says Clovis CIO Norman Kia in an EdTech article.

Network Upgrades and Security Support Mobile Rise

As more students embrace mobile apps to collaborate and stay organized, and universities use apps to streamline services, campus networks must be ready to support these devices.

At Utica College in New York, a robust network upgrade with new access points and switches from Extreme Networks, gives better coverage to students everywhere from classrooms to residence halls.

“Providing a better user experience for our students was a primary driver of this deployment, but that wasn’t our sole objective,” writes Jeremy Gibbs, a senior network engineer at Utica, in an EdTech article. “We also wanted to ensure that our investment produced measurable results related to broader goals of the institution, such as enhanced student learning, better student retention rates and increased staff productivity.”

Some universities have even expanded their networks to football and basketball stadiums so that fans can use their mobile devices while taking in a game.

As networks expand to allow more connected devices on campus than ever before, universities need to make sure that networks remain secure. Focusing on patch management and endpoint security helps universities stay safe but keep networks open.

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