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3 Challenges Facing Education IT Leaders and How to Solve Them

by Jackie Davis

Today’s higher education universities and K-12 schools are faced with a variety of IT needs to support growing infrastructure. From high-performance computing that enables research to applications that power learning games – one thing is constant – the need for solutions that are scalable, secure, and budget-friendly.

According to Red Hat experts, education IT leaders are faced with a difficult dilemma. The need for systems that are secure, automated, and diverse is pressing while the need to stay on budget is paramount. IT leaders are looking for a solution that can alleviate the multiple pitfalls facing their institutions while being resource-friendly.

The three S’s: scalability, storage, and security are major challenges facing the education sector. However, with the right technology, these challenges can be overcome. Learn how Scholastic Corporation, Cornell University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Massachusetts Open Cloud implemented Red Hat open source as-a-service technology and beat their IT obstacles.

Scholastic Corporation, a powerhouse in children’s publishing and education technology, needed a scalable IT environment to provide a consistent experience for Core Click, a reading program for users. While the company had already moved from data center to cloud computing to reduce time to market and infrastructure costs, they wanted to do more.

“We saw organizations moving to microservices in a container framework because the architecture is so nimble, and we wanted to give it a try,” explained Prasad Gunasekera, Infrastructure Manager at Scholastic.

Scholastic adopted containers and microservices that are easy to install and maintain. Uptime was improved by more than 80 percent and the time to market has been reduced from months to weeks.

Research and collaboration projects within higher ed produce mass amounts of data. For Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC) – a nonprofit initiative of universities, government organizations, and businesses – the need for a better storage solution that could support their 100 students, researchers, and industry collaborators was needed.

“We needed a cost-effective, reliable, and scalable storage solution to accommodate the large amounts of data our researchers work with,” said Piyanai Saowarattitada, Director of Engineering, Massachusetts Open Cloud, (MOC).

With the implementation of cloud solutions, MOC has seen improved storage capabilities, reduced operating costs, and increased collaboration throughout their teams. “Red Hat Ceph Storage provides a solid, scalable platform for big data applications, letting our researchers focus on analytics and innovation instead of data collection and storage,” added Saowarattitada.

Cornell University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham were facing similar storage challenges regarding research. Both universities needed strong, flexible, scalable solutions to manage the array of research projects that require large amounts of data to be stored and analyzed.

“We had a challenge in managing and storing the vast amounts of data that many of these technologies produce,” explained James Vanee, Cornell University’s IT Director. “The existing infrastructure had some shortcomings,” such as size, scalability, and performance.

Research projects require high-performance computing environments, storage, and scalability – things the current systems couldn’t provide. Instead of rip-and-replace or purchase costly new tech, the universities turned to open source technology-as-a-service. For both, cost and scalability were a major concern, but with the right storage solution, research projects were kept on course and able to grow, while staying in budget.

“We’re considering new research opportunities that aren’t restricted by storage barriers. Researchers can expand their thinking and pursue grants they couldn’t before,” said John-Paul Robinson, Research Software Architect, University of Alabama At Birmingham.

“We could leverage our existing infrastructure and not be locked into specific hardware moving forward,” said Vanee. By leveraging open source solutions as-a-service, both teams were able to add the solutions they needed to complete, and grow, their research while staying on budget.

According to the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR), sixty-one percent or more of colleges and universities report decisions for the upcoming year being influenced by the increasing complexity of security threats along with the need for data-driven decision making.

Per Red Hat education subject matter experts, it’s no surprise that security, and the data that accompanies it, are influencing higher education institutions choices this year. Security is a continuing priority for colleges and universities and is an integral factor in the technology they choose to use.

With Red Hat as-a-service solutions, colleges, universities, and EdTech producers are provided secure, flexible solutions that stay within budget.

Interested in learning more about the value of Red Hat’s industry-leading enterprise open source solutions for higher education? Click here.

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