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Mastering Higher Education Cloud Management

Higher education institutions are transitioning from on-premises systems to cloud infrastructure in order to meet the growing demand for online learning programs, collaboration tools, and mobile connectivity. Providing innovative technologies powered by the cloud has become a competitive advantage for colleges and universities striving to attract the top students, faculty members, and researchers. As a result, IT departments must enhance the campus infrastructure and back-end systems to meet availability, reliability, and security requirements.

With the start of a new school year comes excitement, new beginnings, and for campus IT, the preparation for a surge in cloud consumption. In order to manage their scaling cloud infrastructure, campus IT is assuming the role of a cloud service broker, providing services across multiple departments, or multiple IT teams for large public university systems. This helps prevent departments and teams from making decisions independently of one another, so campus IT can focus on managing the cloud infrastructure as they scale.  

Some tested and proven ways for higher education institutions to effectively manage their cloud infrastructure are:

Maximize their cloud investment

Colleges and universities often rely on tuitions and alumni donations to improve campus operations and facilities. For the finance and IT departments, controlling cloud spend is very important as these institutions do not have the luxury of unlimited budgets. One of the best ways to control cloud spend is to take advantage of pricing programs offered by cloud service providers such as Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances, Microsoft Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances, and Google Committed Use Discounts. In some cases these discounts yield savings up to 75%.

Improve efficiency

Similar to being scrutinized on spending, higher education institutions cannot afford to be wasteful. Campus IT needs to pinpoint opportunities for improvement across cost, usage, and performance. They can start by identifying cloud assets with low utilization for core performance metrics, such as 20% or less CPU. Once identified, they can downgrade these assets to a smaller footprint, or in some cases terminate the asset if it is running and not being used.  

Centralize cloud governance

Campus IT departments recognize that employee time is valuable and that they need to maximize the resources at their disposal. One way to do that is by implementing policies to automate day-to-day tasks. Policies can range from alerts on cost spikes, turning infrastructure off on weekends and back on for weekdays, deleting untagged infrastructure, and more.

Mitigate security risks

Security is constantly top of mind for higher education institutions, in fact, at EDUCAUSE last year, they announced that information security has been the number one IT issue for the past three years. Institutions need to continuously monitor their cloud environment for security vulnerabilities, that way they can prevent breaches or remediate any potential issues that occur. Many cloud service providers offer security best practice documentation that campus IT can leverage.

While managing cloud infrastructure in a do-it-yourself fashion is feasible, it can be time consuming, error-prone, and complex. A trusted cloud management platform, like CloudHealth, can help higher education institutions drive increasing business value throughout their cloud journey.