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As COVID-19 has swept across campuses everywhere, it has highlighted the instability of the average campus’s digital infrastructure. And unfortunately, drastic changes are needed to keep higher education facilities ahead of the technological curve.

As such, we expect colleges, universities, and trade schools to provide the best instruction and guidance possible. Yet, the tech infrastructure at many institutions of higher learning is lacking. Old buildings with limited entry points for cabling, increased internet access demands, disparate departments spread out across sweeping campuses — and now, a gigantic increase in remote learning — it’s a wonder that colleges and universities can provide the services that they do.

Securing the Future of Education

Securing-the-Future-of-Education-with-FirstlightWhen looking into the future of higher education, one thing is for certain: online learning is only going to continue to grow. Addressing your technology needs for the future is paramount for the health and fiscal stability of your institution.

Here are the 5 most-pressing technological needs higher education institutions have related to their existing data center and cloud strategies:

Data Center

Many schools are looking to reclaim precious real estate on campus, leaving technology leaders having to look for a new long-term home for their data center and infrastructure.

To keep up with growing demands, higher education institutions are considering moving their infrastructure into a third-party data center. With the right data center provider and location, additional growth or contraction isn’t a problem. While moving infrastructure is never an easy task, many data center providers can offer help with migration, and can also provide ongoing service and support for server and network infrastructure, removing many of the burdens that can bog down a technology team.

Bandwidth and Connectivity

In 2019, the Association for College and University Technology stated that bandwidth on college campuses had almost doubled since 2012 (eCampusNews). The adoption of cloud-based services has solved many challenges for schools, but has also lead to complexity in how to connect and maintain the user experience over the network.

Higher education institutions should look for the right combination of factors to make their strategy a success:

  1. Scalable bandwidth
  2. Low latency fiber optic connectivity
  3. Connectivity to cloud and data center
  4. Service and support that can be counted upon to maintain uptime

Remote Learning

remote-learning-with-firstlight-solutionsRemote learning and online classes were already popular before 2020. But now, with COVID-19 shutdowns on campuses, remote learning is an absolute necessity. As such, the data center and network become even more critical to an institution’s learning objectives.

The demand for resources that remote learning places on your data center, plus the security measures that need to be taken to secure thousands of end points accessing the network, puts a strain on your network infrastructure that many institutions didn’t expect to have this year. Now may be the perfect time to find a managed services partner that can harden the strategy that schools need to have moving forward.

Disaster Recovery & Uptime

The cost to construct a true disaster recovery site for a higher education facility can be astronomical. And given all that is going on with remote learning, research and other technology advances in learning, uptime has never been more critical.

A third-party data center or cloud-based disaster recovery site can be the optimal solution that provides the best strategy for uptime while keeping the cost manageable. 

Research and Other Initiatives

Research and collaboration are pushing massive amounts of data into public cloud providers like Azure or AWS.  What needs to go hand-in-hand with this is a low-latency connection into those cloud providers that can support the school’s initiatives.

Designing a network that supports private cloud resources, on-campus faculty and students, off-campus faculty and students and public cloud-based data and applications is no easy task.  Higher education should consider partnering with a provider that has experience in this space and can work to create a nimble approach that supports the school no matter what the future brings. 

FirstLight Can Help

Thankfully, FirstLight experts are here to help. Our network already supports nearly 500,000 students in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Our cloud sites, data centers and fiber optic network provide a unique value to higher education institutions. As a Cisco Premier Partner and Managed IT provider, our team of experts can help fill any skill gaps that may exist and we can work with you to implement the optimal approach for your school.

Contact FirstLight today to learn more about how our solutions are uniquely positioned to help higher education institutions.