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University IT sit ing on a cloud

As competition increases between institutions, Paul Shannon, MD of Managed Services at IT infrastructure specialist ANS, discusses how a more fl exible approach to IT can help universities at ract undergraduates, research students and lecturers


he rise in tuition fees has ushered in a new era for how universities are marketing themselves

to prospective students. While an institution’s academic standing will always be a major factor, increased costs mean students are becoming more discerning consumers when it comes to where they choose to base themselves. Everything from the quality of student accommodation to the wider lifestyle benefi ts off ered by a campus have a greater infl uence. Naturally, technology is a factor in

this. Universities have traditionally been quick to adapt to new trends in IT, from creating cut ing-edge departmental IT suites to installing tablet devices across departments and libraries. However, many are yet to fully embrace

mobile working trends for staff and students. With younger generations traditionally quicker to adopt new technology and ways of working, those in the sector should be investing in back offi ce IT systems that will support the growing desire from students and academics to be able to work more fl exibly. Mobile working and cloud-based

storage has taken off in a big way in the private sector. In part this is being driven by younger people entering the workforce who are more inclined to work from diff erent devices – often their own – and want to the fl exibility to access company resources on their own terms. In response, the IT industry has developed new services which provide the infrastructure to allow this to happen securely. Universities should be responding

to this trend and implementing the cloud-based systems and applications that refl ect modern ways of working. There’s huge potential for improving how students can interact with academia – from accessing lecture slides remotely

or at ending virtual seminars to collaborating on research projects with others no mat er where they are based. By using cloud-based service as a

way to host their systems, universities can also avoid making a signifi cant investment in their own servers and infrastructure equipment that made a lot of these initiatives too costly in previous years. This formed the basis of the

University of Cumbria’s strategy when it was reviewing its storage, servers and backup. At the time, it was England’s newest university and had considerable growth targets. By migrating its datacentre infrastructure to a fl exible cloud platform, which is fully managed by our team, Cumbria can expand on an as-needed basis as the service allows them to scale up without a signifi cant investment in the equipment needed to host this part of its infrastructure. Additionally, entering into a

managed service agreement has allowed the university to free-up some of its IT team’s resource. Any time that was previously taken up by the ongoing maintenance of these systems can now be spent on developing bet er services for the university – fi t ing in with its strategy to use IT capabilities to add to academic impact. Moving from traditional in-house

IT infrastructures to the cloud is a continuing trend in other sectors due to the cost-effi cient nature of the platform. The universities that adapt to this trend will be in a bet er position to develop their IT for students beyond the hardware in IT suites and market themselves as off ering a bet er working environment for both academics and potential applicants. ET

Paul Shannon

“By using cloud-based service as a way to host

their systems, universities can also avoid making a signifi cant investment in their own servers”

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