Powering Higher Education's Switch to Virtual Learning and the Cloud with Managed Services

By Elizabeth Clor

The pandemic has been the driving force for change across industries, but higher education was dealt an especially heavy blow earlier this year. When colleges and universities were called to abruptly close down campuses in the spring, they were forced to transition residential operations online virtually overnight. Come fall, most higher ed institutions were still engaged in some form of virtual learning. 

For many institutions, 2020 has been a bit of a rude awakening to the true capabilities of their technology and IT infrastructure. In order to deliver the quality online learning or virtual classroom experience that students and faculty need, many higher education institutions are undergoing technological upgrades, like migrating some of their systems to the cloud. 

A managed services provider is an excellent addition to this effort—and one that could go overlooked. A managed services provider can work as a third-party partner to help schools and universities upgrade their IT infrastructure and meet new demands. 

Support Virtual Learning with Managed Services 

The immediate switch to virtual learning earlier in the year kept IT departments occupied, answering questions or IT tickets from teachers and students who were learning to use certain technologies for the first time. All of this while IT staff was working concurrently to supply the tools its faculty needed to adapt their classroom environments to virtual ones. 

This is where a managed services partner comes in. The right managed services provider (like Contegix) has the specific industry expertise a higher education institution needs in order to perform an in-depth assessment of a school’s entire IT infrastructure to identify where help is needed. Once this analysis is complete, they can locate and address the routine maintenance and support tasks that an institution needs help with and supplement the efforts of an onsite IT team.  

Using their deep understanding of IT technology and infrastructure, managed services providers can help universities and their IT staff ensure optimal performance, security and technology operations throughout this entire process—while also saving the school from hefty overhead IT costs. For example, managed services providers can help institutions manage their new online learning platforms and make sure all of the necessary materials for those online programs are constantly updated. Managed service providers can also support schools with 24/7 virtual helpdesks. These technology support resources are made available to help remote students and employees at any time of day or night so that IT departments can focus on the more important issues—like the integrity of their new online learning systems. 

Switching to a Cloud Solution with Managed Services 

Amidst the economic downturn and budget cuts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education institutions have been moving towards cloud computing solutions. Instead of buying new, temporary software to support their increased network usage, colleges and universities are moving some or all of their systems over to the cloud. Migrating to the cloud is a long-term investment that can help schools with increased network activity and data protection in the near-term, but also can improve the agility of their infrastructure for future challenges. In fact, the cloud computing market for the education industry is predicted to be worth about $25 billion by the year 2021. 

In order to get the most cost-savings out of their cloud migration, and to ensure the success of this transition as well, higher education and their IT departments can, again, partner with a managed services provider to help navigate this transition. For instance, with the right managed services partner, colleges can set up a gradual cloud migration process that reduces the likelihood of risks and errors. A managed services provider also makes sure that the security and confidentiality of a school’s data remains intact, and regulatory compliance measures are met. 

With the right managed services provider, a school will receive day-to-day remote operational support that can complement an IT department’s existing cloud strategy. This extra layer of support frees up time for onsite IT departments to focus on innovating for the school’s students and staff and bringing more helpful digital solutions to them. 

Managed services providers can make the transition to virtual learning easier for everyone on today’s college campuses. The right managed services provider will help a university handle the daily operations of their online applications and technologies—allowing in-house IT teams to focus on more strategic IT programs and other elements of a school’s core competencies.