Oct 29 2021

EDUCAUSE 2021: University of Notre Dame Combatted the Virtual Insanity of the Pandemic with a Cloud-First Approach

University of Notre Dame had the advantage of an existing cloud-first infrastructure when its IT teams had to provide virtual options for students in response to the pandemic. Their reliance on cross-division collaboration with teams across the campus and the technology tools they had in place made a huge difference in that response — and in the future of digital learning for the university.

“Our arguments were that we need what the cloud offers — we need scalability, flexibility, adaptability. Those capabilities are really what we were after and how we're hoping to mature our IT organization,” said Brandon Rich, an enterprise architect for the university. “We knew that we were getting better resiliency and scale in the ability to respond to disastrous events, but we could never have imagined anything like this.” 

The IT team realized there were great benefits to creating a virtual lab option for students prior to the pandemic. Standing up this virtualized implementation underscored the team’s goal of wanting to supply anytime, anywhere learning, on any device. 

“And from a faculty standpoint, it really provides that consistent environment to support,” said University of Notre Dame IT Project Manager Kevin Strite. “As long as each student can log in to a browser and they have internet access, they get the same, exact virtual desktop that any other student would have. That consistency for every student and for the faculty member really makes it a win-win.”

This experience has informed how the team will consider integrating technology solutions and tools going forward to enhance the experience for students and faculty. 

“We had to really engage those tools. That's to the benefit of the students who have always had a desire for more faculty to meet them where they are,” said Rich. “That is really completely new to everyone. So, I think the role that central IT has to play in that is to set the table and make it easy to provide the best learning experience possible.”

Find more coverage of EDUCAUSE 2021, including more interviews and advice from higher ed experts, here.


    • Kevin Strite, University of Notre Dame IT Project Manager
    • Brandon Rich, University of Notre Dame Enterprise Architect

Video Highlights

  • University of Notre Dame stood up virtual labs in response to the pandemic.
  • Higher education IT leaders talk about the viability of a cloud-first infrastructure and technology tools for colleges and universities in the future. 
  • The best approach for investing in higher education technology includes a buy-and-build approach.