Why Colocation Makes the Most Sense for Colleges and UniversitiesJanuary 7, 2020
While the cloud has become a strategic and operational imperative for higher education, fitting it into an effective IT strategy can be difficult for colleges and universities. The colocation data center presents several opportunities to meet the challenges that higher education faces with balancing cost, access, and flexibility.
For all but a few select colleges and universities, IT budgets are strained as they are caught between maintaining and updating on-prem data centers while devising a strategy and means to move workloads to the cloud. Meeting growth and data accessibility needs across a campus network and beyond the edge means a constant struggle between rightsizing infrastructure and avoiding over or under-provisioning.
Universities increasingly realize that investment in smaller and more powerful hardware racks that are placed in secure facilities that handle power and cooling is the better long-term investment. Colocation service providers can deliver environments that can adapt to needs in a flexible footprint to accommodate scaling up when needed along with cost-effective equipment life cycles.
Moving to the cloud can be just as expensive as expanding on-prem data centers for colleges and universities. That’s why a hybrid IT and blended data center model approach that looks at each potential workload from an access, cost, and efficiency perspective is crucial. The need to keep some data in-house, some in the cloud and some in a colocation data center has profound implications for that cost, efficiency, and access equation as part of an effective cloud strategy.
Colocation Connectivity Brings Cloud efficiency, flexibility and Value
Another plus of a colocation provider is that they can act as a pipeline between universities, colleges and multiple cloud providers. This meets flexibility along with the cost, efficiency, and access equation across workloads that have varying needs.
Many higher education institutions operate nationally and internationally via research, satellite campuses and distance learning. Colocation data center providers with large footprints and points of presence in major cities can bridge the access and cost gaps with cloud provider strategies. This enables them to connect to a colocation data center rather than directly to a major cloud provider to enable more and cheaper bandwidth to the cloud than buying direct connectivity. The result is an ability for higher education to obtain access beyond the network edge while maximizing cost savings on data communication and networks.
As part of a hybrid IT approach, colocation service providers can fill the gap in helping higher education place applications and workloads where they perform best as they optimize cost savings. The direct access to cloud on-ramps improves performance and bandwidth allocation needs as colleges leverage both public and private cloud.
The Higher Education IT Skills Shortage and Colocation
According to the 2019 Campus Computing Survey, 77 percent of colleges say hiring/keeping qualified IT personnel as a top campus IT priority and an equal number have difficulty doing so. This constant strain on higher education IT personnel points to the intersection of:
- Greater need for digital transformation across higher education and the corporate world
- The limited IT budgets that colleges and universities have to find the needed IT expertise
- The lure of more money and potential for opportunity within the corporate sphere for skilled IT personnel
Colleges and universities must find a way to augment their IT organization staff with the expertise that they need. Here again, colocation data center providers can be one answer that provides several solutions. On one hand, colocation meets the need of cost, efficiency and access for many workloads. It can also provide skilled IT support personnel that relive the burden of colleges and universities with IT personnel through:
- Remote Hands
- System Monitoring
- Hardware Upgrades and Maintenance
- On-site Cabling Support
Higher education is increasing its utilization of colocation service providers to spur the needed support for cross-functional collaboration and digital transformation. The need of cloud migration for things like ERP and other SaaS solutions provide value and access in terms of technology investments, but they must also meet strategic priorities.
Colocation service providers can deliver several highly adaptable and truly cost-effective solutions to meet the hybrid IT needs of colleges and universities. This helps keep planning for present and future needs in mind while enabling them to focus on the end goal of an evolving future state of data, application, and collaboration service delivery.