Cloud Consortium Activity Highlights Cloud Opportunity

Smaller U.S. universities and colleges are banding together to improve their capacity to carry out all that's required when looking to contract for the installation of cloud-based computing platforms and services. Looking to reduce costs and realize the benefits of cloud computing, more than 1,700 Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) schools are now able to leverage the resources of CampusCloud by CampusEAI Consortium. This includes 700 schools across 15 western states that are members of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE).

Established in 2003 in Ohio by 14 universities "as a response to increasing IT budget cuts, resource constraints and expectations of incoming Internet-savvy students," the non-profit CampusEAI Consortium aims to "help members reduce the time, costs and effort associated with implementing enterprise IT services by leveraging shared IT services, lessons learned and best practices so that each member can avoid reinventing the wheel."

Signed in late 2012, the contract between MHEC, WICHE and CampusEAI Consortium will potentially affect more than 8 million students and thousands of faculty and staff across the two regions.

Boulder, Colorado's Naropa University, a non-profit small school founded on Buddhist principles, offers an illustration of the benefits that can be realized by joining in CampusEAI's collective effort, according to a Campus Technology report.

Though it benefits from a centralized IT department with "considerable industry experience," Naropa found itself wanting in resources when it came time to implement and pay for a data center upgrade.

"The logistical implications of a data center overhaul were unavoidable and impractical," Naropa's IT director Dave Edminster told Campus Technology. "We needed to solve our current cooling and power issues, not to mention address our future needs, ASAP...While certainly an important factor, in some ways the budget wasn't the primary driver behind the decision to undertake this migration," he noted. "Manpower, available resources, and logistics were."

Five years into its cloud transition, Naropa seeing numerous benefits, according to Campus Technology's report. "It has already transitioned staff and faculty e-mail, a tertiary domain controller, and both primary and secondary web servers. The school is also considering a cloud-based document-hosting solution, although this project is in its infancy."

Now, the university is looking to its cloud platform to level the playing field and better compete in the rapidly growing distance education field. "For resource-strapped smaller schools - and even online start-ups - the cloud offers them a chance to compete without burdensome capital outlays," Campus Technology's Alicia Brazington writes.

These and other moves by the higher education community illustrate the growing opportunity of cloud and managed services for service providers. Colleges and universities are prime targets for these services and we highly recommend that clients explore the opportunity to serve campuses that are in reach (whether in territory or out of it). CHR Solutions has the capabilities to empower our clients to offer a turnkey cloud and managed services portfolio.

Written by Kevin Kutcher at 12:00
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