University Tech: Winter is coming – are you prepared?

Axians University IT blog series  

Winter is coming

Operating in a marketplace where reputation is all important, educational institutions are relying more and more on technology to give them the edge. We know that keeping pace with demands from students and staff is a constant battle but, as well as keeping up, it is important to think ahead and maintain your competitive advantage.

As any Game of Thrones fan will know, resting on your laurels is not an option – planning for future university tech challenges and equipping your IT defences with the necessary skills and tools is the only way to survive the approaching winter and ensure you win the war.

The winds of winter

Students are the lifeblood of education and the expectations they have of their educational institutions have never been higher. For those universities that can meet those needs, the ability to do so can be a massive advantage. For those that can’t, it can be very bad news indeed. To make them battle-ready and engage the current student population, universities are becoming increasingly willing to innovate through technology, using it to communicate and collaborate with students and colleagues via innovations such as the ‘sticky campus’[1].

But as well as giving students the resources and opportunities they need to succeed in their degree, they also need to arm them for life outside and beyond the university walls, and the wider working world. If educators want to equip their students for work, they need to ensure they are one step ahead of the university tech curve and develop a very broad knowledge base and up-to-the-minute skills.

The climb

Any institution that wants to protect and fortify its reputation and genuinely do the best by its students and staff has no choice but to secure state-of-the-art technology skills and ensure they can keep up for the long-term. And yes, resources are scarce but no, this situation is not negotiable. Not for those who wish to survive winter, at any rate.

The good news is that the skills to survive don’t have to be in-house. Just as in the world of commerce and government, savvy educational institutions are buying-in these skills which will help them remain competitive, through partnerships with specialist IT providers and consultants.

This gives maximum flexibility alongside access to cutting-edge skills and provision, and the assurance that they will be first in the queue to benefit from technological advances specific to education and research.

Reach2020 University Network Security

The gift

Take, for example, Janet – the high-speed network used by the UK’s education and research communities which is owned and run by Jisc, a not-for-profit company. Jisc adopted a five to seven-year network refresh cycle, to make sure the UK’s educational community continues to benefit from the very latest technologies.

Axians have worked closely with Jisc on upgrades of the core routers and implementing a refresh of its Lightpath bandwidth on demand service. This was part of the Janet 6 update, a new network connecting 150 institutions and serving a community of around a million end-users.

Working in partnership with Axians, Jisc has been able to future-proof technology infrastructure to ensure it can keep up to date with university tech innovations today and tomorrow.

Winning the war

The cold, hard facts are that educators have no choice but to embrace technology. But we understand that this mission is getting more and more challenging to administer. Campus networks are becoming increasingly complex, as they stretch to include growing demand from students for 24/7 connection, increased use of cloud computing and remote access.

Yet too many are based on outdated infrastructure that leaves them vulnerable to attack (which is itself a threat to reputation and resource) and insufficiently agile to meet growing need. Bolstering IT skills and resources to future-proof the network will put institutions on a fast track to success, avoiding a reputational and financial winter.

If you want to insulate yourself from a forthcoming winter, why not read about Axians’ Reach2020 initiative, and/or get in touch to see how we can work in partnership with your institution to improve your university tech?

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2017/sep/11/how-can-universities-ensure-their-students-are-satisfied

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