Digital Transformation in Higher Education

IT modernization is dramatically changing learning experiences and teaching environments. Digital is also transforming the way institutions of higher education around the world operate. From large research institutions and teaching hospitals to community colleges, digital campus initiatives move academic institutions toward more secure, agile, and cost-effective infrastructure and services, empowering individuals at all levels—from faculty, staff, and administration to that most important stakeholder, the student.

The challenges posed by modernizing IT make it imperative to choose the right partner on the journey. Today, colleges and universities are accelerating digital transformation with VMware—taking a pragmatic, value-added path that taps the power of data centers, cloud, mobility, automation, and security to improve operations and contain costs.

Server Virtualization Was Just the Beginning

As a foundation for IT modernization, virtualization, pioneered by VMware, helped academic institutions efficiently deal with increasing demand for IT services while reducing hardware, energy, and operational costs. It also led to more dynamic and agile computing environments.

Today, a software-defined approach enabled by advanced technologies from VMware is at the core of data center modernization, transforming security, extending to any cloud, and supporting the delivery of apps, data, and information anytime, on any device, wherever work needs to be done.

IT Modernization Best Practices

Academic institutions working with VMware take an evolutionary, not revolutionary, approach to IT modernization. These six best practices are among the ways top colleges and universities are accelerating digital transformation with VMware.

  1. Boost Agility with a Software-Defined Foundation
  2. Improve Operations Efficiency Through IT Automation
  3. Provide Infrastructure as a Service
  4. Create a Culture of Agility with Cloud
  5. Transform Cybersecurity with a Software Layer
  6. Increase Productivity Through Mobility

Boost Agility with a Software-Defined Foundation

Traditional IT infrastructure silos pose significant challenges. They are difficult to maintain and costly to change. A modernized data center is virtualized, automated, standardized, and extensible across private, public, and hybrid clouds, making it ideal for innovation. Governed by software, a modern data center meets the increasing requirements of higher education institutions to deliver IT services faster and at scale, all while improving cybersecurity and the productivity of staff, faculty, and students. It enables existing IT staff to support on-premises legacy applications and future, cloud-based architectures, including cloud-ready development platforms and ecosystem partners, without ripping and replacing systems.

A software-defined data center (SDDC) is the optimal foundation for agility. It simplifies and streamlines entire IT infrastructures. The combination of virtualized compute, storage, and networking with a common management platform gives academic institutions the freedom to extend internal data centers to any public, private, or hybrid cloud for the increased flexibility needed to meet changing requirements—whether they are from students, staff, or in the context of regulatory shifts.

With an SDDC approach, Université Laval (U-Laval) has transformed into an IT service broker, offering its departments a cloud-based alternative to managing their own IT infrastructures, as well as serving the extended community with a public cloud. The addition of VMware NSX® network virtualization enables U-Laval to deliver isolated environments to different tenants on the same infrastructure, with fast provisioning and low costs. This allows U-Laval to offer regional municipalities, public sector entities, and school boards in Quebec an affordable and secure data center as a service.

Improve Operational Efficiency Through IT Automation

Cost management is key for every academic institution, be it public or private. Every campus recognizes it, but doing more with less continues to challenge teams stretched by the upkeep of legacy systems and proliferating endpoints. Furthermore, reliance on traditional legacy applications and hightouch, manual lifecycle management for the delivery of IT services negatively impacts availability, performance, and resource allocation. An enterprise-ready, complete cloud management platform manages, monitors, and automates data center and heterogeneous, hybrid cloud infrastructure. It improves consistency, quality, and speed to market with standardized blueprints for application environments, decreasing time spent deploying infrastructure and applications or responding to IT service requests.

End-to-end virtualization, centralized management, and IT automation help campuses

  • Eliminate wait times for provisioned infrastructure and applications
  • Standardize configurations
  • Reduce unnecessary rework
  • Respond faster to requests for new IT services
  • Lower both capital expenditures and operating costs

Technology plays a key role in powering online learning and delivering services to both students and administration at the University of New Mexico (UNM). When UNM needed to upgrade its IT infrastructure to automate services, increase agility, and eliminate outages, it began establishing an SDDC. Today, UNM’s investment in VMware solutions has resulted in decreased costs and increased efficiency and reliability.

Provide Infrastructure as a Service

Fragmentation of IT across a campus can cause inefficiencies, raise costs, and complicate security efforts. As IT organizations become more agile with a completely software-defined infrastructure, services can be delivered faster, with compliance and security built in, and for lower cost. With a simple self-service portal, anything from storage to networking to high-performance computing can be provisioned in minutes instead of weeks.

The University of New Hampshire deployed a software-defined network that could create secure network segments without adding more hardware. It consolidated 500 physical servers into 80 that run thousands of virtual machine (VM) workloads. Consolidated hardware clusters, while staying in compliance with PCI and HIPAA thanks to VM-level firewalling and logging in NSX, allow workloads to run securely on the same host yet remain fully separated for compliance needs.

Create a Culture of Agility With Cloud

Cloud is a strategy, not a destination. Yet without a common operating environment, managing workloads across on-premises, public, and hybrid clouds can be difficult and time consuming. Successful cloud deployments enable campuses to manage a workload where it makes sense—on premises, or in a particular public cloud—depending on application type, program, or educational goal.

Transform Cybersecurity with a Software Layer

Security remains the top IT priority for every academic institution. A software-defined approach to infrastructure extends to security, better safeguarding data and applications through a defense-in-depth approach to mitigating risk.

More operationally efficient than hardware, software can be used by campuses for ubiquitous abstraction of physical resources across their entire IT environment: infrastructure, apps, networks, and endpoint devices. This abstraction, pioneered by VMware, enables full visibility, context, and control of interactions between users, apps, and devices while also allowing for the insertion of third-party security and compliance services. This same open and ubiquitous architecture provides comprehensive policy-based governance, automation, monitoring, and identity-based conditional access to provisioned resources.

Edinburgh Napier University deployed NSX to create a seamless IT experience for students and staff alike. With a granular level of security at the network layer, the IT team can both migrate and provision new servers in half the time it used to take, helping them to get new services to students and staff quicker.

Increase Productivity Through Mobility

Modern infrastructure enhances institutional agility and flexibility while providing an architecture that securely mobilizes campus stakeholders, including students who bring personally owned devices into the campus IT mix. A digital workspace platform, such as VMware Workspace ONE™, integrates access control by identity, application management, and multiplatform endpoint management to deliver secure access to data, apps, and IT services from any device or location while maintaining a consumer-like user experience.

Beyond mobile devices, the digital workspace encompasses virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that modernizes PC experiences for example, in campus labs. VDI enables IT to centrally manage and deliver desktops and applications for more cost-efficient, agile, secure delivery. VDI simplifies Windows 10 migrations and the management of legacy apps side by side with modern SaaS and web-based apps.

When colleges and universities deploy the digital workspace, they:

  • Provide a modern interface and self-service app catalog for an unmatched user experience
  • Deliver single sign-on access to any app or data from any device or operating system
  • Enable the centralized management of users, apps, and devices from a single console
  • Offload cumbersome IT management tasks, including full application and PC lifecycle management
  • Provide real-time visibility into user, device, and application behavior across locations, and over-the-air delivery of apps, policies, and updates
  • Strengthen data protection by keeping data off devices, secure in the data center

Western Carolina University is using digital workspace solutions to provide flexible, convenient access to apps and data from cafés to labs to offices. Through a single portal with a single log in, the university community can study and work on any device at any time.

Taming the Internet of Things

As more and more connected devices enter the higher education environment, campus IT teams will be confronted with interoperability and security questions. How will Internet of Things (IoT) devices be configured, secured, managed, and monitored, from the edge to the cloud? A single platform, such as VMware Pulse™ IoT Center™, supports academic institutions’ enterprise-grade IoT success. From smart classrooms and research facilities to optimized supply chain management for more efficient procurement in areas such as food service, the opportunities for innovation in the educational experience are endless. With VMware, campuses can leverage IoT to evolve and innovate, without reinventing the wheel.

Drive Limitless Learning with IT Modernization and VMware

Groundbreaking software-defined solutions modernize IT and improve security, accelerating digital transformation for academic institutions around the world. Position your campus for IT modernization success with VMware.

Tap into a World-Class Dedication to Higher Education

ScholarBuys and VMware understand the unique requirements of academic IT, making VMware technology solutions
built on a virtualized, software-defined approach to IT even more advantageous for institutions seeking to preserve investments in point solutions or legacy applications. With ScholarBuys, you’re partnering with a dedicated team who really understand how higher education is changing today, and how IT can help drive innovation.

In the years since VMware introduced the concept of server virtualization to higher education, it has helped colleges and universities enable secure access to applications and infrastructure while lowering costs. Today, VMware provides remote access to collaborative research computing environments, ensuring that the IT infrastructure driving campus workflows in financial aid, healthcare, campus security, transportation, logistics and of course, the classroom—are efficient and secure. With VMware, your IT team can meet the needs of today’s modern mobile learners by securing and mobilizing digital learning and research environments.

Take an evolutionary, not revolutionary, approach to IT modernization in support of your campus goals. Modernize IT with best practices and technologies from VMware.

Scroll to Top