Higher Ed Networks Serve as a Model for Other Industries
In many ways, higher education networks have served as blueprints for the balance of IT practices that exist outside of colleges and universities.
Research networks are frequently among the very first to try new technology, especially if it facilitates the high-speed, high-bandwidth data sharing that is required for long-distance collaboration. Indeed, 100 Gigabit Ethernet, 400Gb and now 800Gb and beyond have all found a place in large research networks, often supporting initiatives that leverage high-performance compute clusters.
But as the networking industry begins a shift from networks (connecting applications and users) to networking (administering those networks), the bleeding edge of technology will naturally expand beyond transport to include operations.
Here again, educational institutions have long been ahead of the enterprise pack. Staffed with Unix admins capable of automating their day-to-day tasks, universities have long-established programmatic approaches to design. However, as more enterprise- and cloud-grade tooling hits the market, some of that DIY spirit should naturally be augmented with off-the-shelf capabilities, allowing these thinly staffed teams to aim their sights even higher.
Less Complex Infrastructure Can Improve Management
For a workforce that is routinely focused on the bits and bytes of IT infrastructure, some of the higher-level functionality can seem a bit unapproachable. Leveraging modern network management tools that are easier to understand means pulling information from the command line and operating at a higher, less-detailed level.