Higher Education: Meeting the Student Digital Demand and Academic Freedom.

May 4, 2016
Higher Education: Meeting the Student Digital Demand and Academic Freedom.

By Andy Tait, Head of Public Sector Strategy at VMware

Universities have a unique challenge. In order to drive collaborative research and ensure student satisfaction, IT needs to provide a choice of environments with a focus on teaching and research whilst potentially holding some of the worlds most valuable and confidential data. Fundamentally its credibility and on-going trust perception is directly driven by the ability for IT to deliver centralised and secure, yet open services.

Student retention and satisfaction is critical to a Universities success. They now have to appeal to  top researchers and students, who now have greater expectations of ‘value for money’. Each domestic undergraduate is worth around £9,000 per year without ancillary spend and international and professional students are worth significantly more. Every student expect on-demand consumption of IT as a right not a privilege, whether they are on or off campus.

For every 1% that student retention drops, a University loses a potential £5.4m per 20,000 students..  This is before a student has even paid for accommodation, course study materials or bought several Lattes in the on campus coffee franchises! For universities, losing top academics and associated grants is not an option.

So how do Universities create secure, mobile and open, reliable and trusted IT services in this climate? How can you open up access to your systems to tens of thousands of ever changing university population when each one is also a potential intelligent attack vector on the wrong side of your very expensive firewall?  Let me outline one journey to solve this:

Step 1 – Commoditise and Become Agile

Virtualise your compute, networking, applications and storage. Commoditise it. This first step will move you away from closed, propriety systems which hold up project deployment, cost large amounts of capital and are slow to deploy. By moving to this model you can reduce your time and costs to delivery and reduce large CAPEX.

Step 2 – Mico-segment and Contain

Accept your datacentre is potentially compromised, instead contain and control any breach. Wrap each workload or user in a distributed firewall, ensuring your customers can only consume the services that are intended for them and prevent ‘service hopping’.

Step 3 – ‘Hybridise’ and Provide Choice

Offer multiple clouds from multiple vendors and extend your private cloud with vCloud Air. Manage it centrally using a Cloud Management platform such as vRealize, providing choice and scale.

Step 4 – Manage, Automate and Control cost

Choice is no good without control whether that is cost control, service control or IT control. Offer your organisation the ability to consume service as if you were the cloud provider, using a self-service portal finding the best balance of cost, security and scale.

Provide options, be a dynamic service broker not a static service provider.

Step 5 – Secure and Free Devices

Make sure the content on the device is secure, relevant, collaborative and accessible from anywhere without providing over restrictive controls.

By taking this journey you can offer open and secure application access, whilst delivering student and staff choice. This digital transformation will enhance academic freedom and, ultimately, improve student satisfaction – all delivered for a lower cost. It’s a win, win!

Read VMware’s Whitepaper ‘University Challenge: Cyber Attacks in Higher Education‘ to find out more.

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