Feb 14 2019

Why Universities Should Switch to Cloud Monitoring

As universities adopt cloud computing, IT teams may want to consider a flexible monitoring system to match.

As higher education transitions into the cloud, cloud network monitoring can help universities streamline network performance and security management.

Universities are moving in the direction of cloud integration, with no sign of slowing down. Laura Ipsen, CEO of Ellucian and a former executive at Cisco and Microsoft, thinks higher education institutions should prepare for the inevitable shift, EdScoop reports. “Many of these institutions have thousands of integrations and modifications to their software that they have to figure out how to scale,” says Ipsen. “Some have massive investments in data centers that are becoming utility as we work more and deliver more in the cloud.”

MORE FROM EDTECH: See how cloud access security brokers give universities network visibility.

Cloud Network Monitoring vs. Traditional

Network monitoring provides various advantages for higher education IT teams. Universities that have deployed monitoring solutions have an easier time detecting intrusions, tracking and improving network performance, and maintaining the bandwidth students and teachers need on campus.

Traditional network monitoring tools have primarily focused on network performance and infrastructure, using network management systems to maintain devices such as firewalls and routers. 

However, the switch to the cloud means cloud monitoring capabilities must be able to measure the performance of new components — for example, the WAN link, which is the lifeline between a network and the service provider, writes cloud technology expert Rick Blaisdell.

For large and small teams, having additional elements means allocating additional man-hours for network monitoring. Universities can balance the scales by unifying cloud monitoring to keep all network components in check.

Cloud monitoring “lets enterprises deal with aging hardware via firmware upgrades that are downloaded on regular and frequent schedules,” writes Chuck Moozakis, editor at large for TechTarget. “That type of consistency reflects one of the primary goals of unified management, and that is being able to use a simple, single strategy to oversee an entire inventory of network components — from switches to access points.”

Cloud network monitoring also allows universities to “outsource the provision of a scalable, enterprise-grade network,” as well as “the necessity to monitor and manage it,” according to Blaisdell.

Additionally, cloud adoption requires a new level of flexibility. Monitoring services must be able to adjust seamlessly as universities expand their cloud networks to accommodate the growing number of students, applications and integrations on campus. 

Cloud network monitoring services provide users with several advanced API tools for customization and automation, offering the flexibility they need to manage the fluctuation of applications and users on their networks.

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Universities Benefit from Cloud Monitoring Services

Many universities are already incorporating cloud monitoring services as they invest in new campus initiatives.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, administrators committed to creating the eight-story, 720,000-square-foot Stata Center, housing the largest lab on campus. 

Plans for the center included the bandwidth to support the over 800 faculty, staff and students that would be housed there, which seemed like a monumental task. 

To provide the coverage the center would need, Jack Costanza, the Assistant Director at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), installed 80 dual-radio wifi access points.

Costanza utilized the power of Cisco Meraki’s integrated cloud monitoring system to check off the boxes his network needed, from maintaining reliable connectivity to expanding coverage.

At the Community College of Denver, Chris Arcarese, director of IT, realized it was time to replace the college’s 13-year-old network. Students and faculty were reporting internet issues, the network was becoming difficult to manage and there was not enough visibility to properly monitor the network.

With his team, Arcarese deployed 120 Meraki MR access points and 115 MS Series switches across campus in two months. Using Meraki’s monitoring dashboard, Arcarese and his team are able to troubleshoot, monitor VoIP traffic, and keep watch over network traffic and bandwidth use from a central station, saving hours of work. 

“We can now monitor the network in a cohesive way, whereas in the past, we might have had to use additional software or monitoring devices,” said Arcarese in a case study.


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