With the right multi-year strategy, higher-education institutions can efficiently transition to new cloud solutions that can dramatically improve the overall student experience and optimize internal operations
The path to a modern campus is clear; unfortunately, a host of challenges can derail the journey. Higher-education institutions have already made substantial investments in underlying technologies, and since many of these investments still deliver significant value, rip-and-replace modernization projects are impractical and counterproductive.
Nevertheless, to stay competitive with other institutions, colleges and universities must integrate modern technology—including social media, mobile devices, and big data into all aspects of their operations.
For help, institutions are turning to cloud computing in all its various forms—from Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and hybrid implementations that merge cloud and on-premises resources. But merely layering new cloud capabilities as an afterthought on top of existing systems doesn’t deliver the full potential of today’s innovations. This helps explain why first-generation clouds, such as standalone SaaS solutions, often offer only partial benefits compared to newer, more complete options.
In fact, first-generation clouds may lead to even less-efficient operations and less insight into the overall academic enterprise. For example, older SaaS applications enable IT managers to quickly provide new services to internal customers simply by paying a set subscription fee to a service provider. As a result, institutions bypass upfront capital costs associated with on-premises systems and take advantage of easy scalability. So if new employees or a department needs the same capabilities, the IT organization just contracts for more seats under the existing SaaS contract.
While there’s a lot for IT administrators and end users to like about traditional SaaS, first generation offerings may ultimately benefit service providers more than their customers. That’s because early SaaS vendors capitalize on a shared-everything model. Each client must settle for a common database and underlying technology infrastructure—a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t let higher-education institutions easily address their unique needs or distinguish themselves from competitors. Thus, user interfaces look the same for everyone, even if various clients navigate the application differently because of unique demands.
In addition, when it’s time for a service provider to upgrade the application, the changes happen universally, no matter that the timing could disrupt some customers more than others because of current projects or academic calendars.
Lastly, but probably most importantly, data is siloed within these niche application provider areas, generating significant data and process integration challenges that are largely left to the customer to navigate and solve.
Dig deeper and other shortcomings materialize. The rigid architectures of first-generation SaaS solutions can keep various departments within schools from sharing related information and closely integrating business processes. Flaws in first-generation clouds create roadblocks that hinder life-long learning, closer student engagement, and heightened operational efficiency—all critical components of a 21st Century education.
But now, the most progressive cloud providers are turning older cloud models inside out and giving colleges and universities a customer-centric approach to cloud that paves the way to modern campuses.
Download the ebook Map the Journey to the Modern Campus from Oracle.