The Top 3 Considerations for IT Pros To Set Their Institution Up for Success

By Brandon Shopp
June 27, 2022

Today’s contributor, Brandon Shopp, is the Group Vice President of Product for IT management software provider, SolarWinds. In this article, Shopp discusses the digital transformation of higher education, and what IT professionals need to do to innovate institutions. 

The past year has forced institutions to re-evaluate their IT roadmaps in a post-pandemic world. Priorities have shifted, and the idea of returning to “normal” seems an impossible reality for higher education.

These are the findings of EDUCAUSE’s list of top 10 IT priorities for higher education which takes an optimistic view of how technology can help redefine the campus. Indeed, the report concludes “…the higher education we deserve cannot be created without technology,” whether protecting and securing data, encouraging the digital fluency of staff, or producing more student-centric and equity-minded systems.

But for the technology-enabled business model to be sustainable, IT leaders must first consider the underlying IT infrastructure. Many institutions assume their networks and data centers can handle the digital transformation. But newer digital operations strain network resources and create performance issues and security vulnerabilities, ultimately jeopardizing an institution’s ability to respond to change.

As they look to set their institutions up for success in a post-pandemic world, IT leaders may be asking, “Are we prepared?”. To help answer that question, here are three considerations higher education institutions must consider as they map out their IT priorities.

1. Build visibility into IT infrastructure

A critical starting point for IT optimization is to achieve immediate visibility into various aspects of the institution’s infrastructure. With this observability, IT professionals can understand what is required to right-size and optimize their infrastructure and ensure a friction-free user experience.

For instance, infrastructure weaknesses should be identified and mitigated to accommodate new software and hardware loads. A single pane of glass monitoring tool is ideal because, in contrast to tools operating independently, it gives network administrators a comprehensive view of network operations and usage trends. By using accurate and actionable monitoring data, they can proactively prevent modernization issues from impacting learning and operations.

2. Identify current performance issues

Observability can also support the strategic IT planning process. Updating infrastructure is a complex and time-consuming process for any institution. Before vendor contracts are signed and solutions procured, acquisitions must go through internal planning and approval, budgeting, and ordering.

But with visibility into usage trends such as average peak loads, demands on core networking hardware, the number of concurrent users for critical applications, or any other insights across multi-vendor devices, IT teams can better plan for infrastructure upgrades and with ample time to line up funding.

3. Ensure observability that evolves with needs

As higher education works to become more dynamic and agile, successful institutions will be those designed to achieve continuous observability into the moving parts of the network and data center – without dealing with tool sprawl.

Too much monitoring creates headaches for IT teams. Stove piped dashboards, a sea of alerts, and conflicting data can make it hard to pinpoint real issues. However, monitoring doesn’t have to be complicated. The right monitoring tools should consolidate network, operations, and security data points from various sources and be simple enough so non-specialists can use them without extensive training. Importantly, they must also be modular to ensure they can scale as digital transformation projects evolve on-premises, in the cloud, and across hybrid environments.

Getting visibility is the first step to sustainable transformation

As institutions redefine the campus and better incorporate IT into the learning and student experience, college and university leaders must re-examine what their organizations will look like in the future. Priorities have shifted, and secure, scalable digital transformation is now a must-have. Gaining visibility is the first step to forging ahead with these initiatives.

Featured image: monkeybusinessimages, iStock.