Using the cloud to enable a mobile student body

When a university with a history of technological adoption needed a new data storage solution, offsite storage had to integrate with its multi-device fleet.
Written by Drew Turney, Contributor

Bryant University, a private education provider based in Smithfield, Rhode Island, with a 150-year history, has around 3,400 students, over 85 percent of them residential, as well as 700 staff and faculty members. The 420-acre, 50-building campus is run by a centralised IT function, meaning staff members have their work cut out for them.

All Bryant University students receive a laptop configured and issued by the IT department, and they're encouraged to use their own devices to collaborate with teachers and each other.

Director of computer and telecommunications services Rich Siedzik called the resulting online learning management system "state of the art", but said the proliferation of devices and application endpoints needed to support it led to a 300 percent increase in the amount of data stored and managed by the university in just the last four years.

Cloud storage was the obvious solution, and in early 2014, Bryant University started using NaviSite's NaviCloud Vault cloud storage platform to offset the infrastructure management and cost of securely storing a huge volume of student data.

"Like most organisations, we've seen an explosive growth in data, and tape backups are costly, time consuming, and take too long to access data," Siedzik said. "By using NaviCloud Vault storage, we're anticipating significant savings for data storage and a reduction in the time it takes access it.

Adopting the cloud was formalised in a business plan, and across such a wide user base, a systematic approach was necessary to properly "gate" future applications and services between Bryant's own datacentre and cloud services.

"We've increased cloud services because of the money we've saved using NaviSite's cloud technology since day one," Siedzik said. "Our spending model's shifted from a capital expenditure to an operating expenditure one, which is much better when it comes to budgetary considerations."

Bryant University met the deployment goals of the cloud computing strategy quickly and efficiently using a third-party systems integrator with sufficient expertise. Although he and his team certainly had the know-how to migrate systems themselves, Siedzik said it would have been a longer and costlier process.

His advice to other organisations with heavy data storage needs is to take a long view appropriate to your situation.

"Focus on the savings you'll make in the medium and long term," he said, "those savings will more than offset the short-term cost of deploying cloud technology."

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