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Why Schools Turn to American Digital for their Expertise in Higher-Ed IT

Posted on: March 23rd, 2018 by Daniella Lundsberg

Many higher-education institutions, such as Purdue University, are challenged by slow backup and recovery times, overextended data center costs, and aging equipment as they cope with serving their faculty and students in the digital economy. Older equipment takes up more space, uses more electricity, costs more to keep cool, and doesn’t run at the peak performance required for today’s 24/7 world. In terms of backup and recovery, schools such as Purdue University are faced with data stores that have outgrown their ability to back up within normal windows. It’s not uncommon for core business applications to be taken offline for several hours to perform backups. Additionally, legacy hardware often doesn’t provide the flexibility for high-availability options. By today’s standards, this is high-risk and unacceptable in terms of servicing users (students and faculty).

There is good news in this story. If your school is due for a technology refresh, you may find that it makes financial sense to transform your data center through virtualization and cloud computing. Today’s core educational applications, such as learning management and student information systems, can run very efficiently in the private cloud. Deploying an on-premises private cloud solution offers a more cost-effective solution on high-density platforms that take up less footprint, cost less to operate, and are simpler to manage. The key benefits are 24/7 access, simplified operations, cloud-like performance, and strong security.

As you consider updating your data center, you want a partner who knows how educational data centers work. American Digital understands the world of higher education. We know the struggles colleges are experiencing as they strive to move their mission forward, attract quality students, and maintain predictable cash flows. We know large projects have many stakeholders, so we can help navigate these challenges to help achieve benefits faster. We also understand the cyclical demands on resources, such as during student registration, so our solutions provide the resource capacity and flexibility to handle peak periods of activity.

Purdue University turned to American Digital as a partner to help them transform their data center infrastructure with a converged computing solution that enabled them to more efficiently run their SAP operations on a standardized platform. They significantly lowered power and cooling costs by reducing their data center footprint as well as decreasing their backup and recovery times by 50 percent. By deploying a virtualized platform, Purdue University also benefitted from simpler IT operations — such that they could quickly provision new resources as needed. One key aspect to the project was the infrastructure solution was from a single vendor, including the servers, storage, and networking equipment. One point of accountability was key to the client. American Digital was able to provide that so there was no finger-pointing from a support perspective.

At American Digital, we are aware of ongoing technology trends and the desire to deliver services quickly in a 24/7 world. We understand the value of agility from an IT perspective and work with our clients to understand their business and technical objectives while providing high-touch service through the entire process. In today’s digital service world, it’s important for educational institutions to not only be agile, but also maintain cost-effectiveness, achieve operational simplicity, as well as feel confident that sensitive data is protected. In American Digital, you have a partner that has the environmental and technical expertise to help you modernize your IT infrastructure so you can focus on your school’s mission and service your students and faculty better.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call: 847-637-4300

Align Your Internal Resources To Administrative, Faculty & Student Applications

Posted on: March 21st, 2018 by Daniella Lundsberg

Higher education is facing a conundrum. Institutions are under constant pressure to manage their cash flow based on enrollment. Compounding this problem is the fact that many colleges and universities are running on older, outdated IT infrastructure, which limits them in many ways.

Legacy technology is expensive to maintain, which puts schools in a financial corner in terms of IT budget. Older technology can be complex as operational requirements are often manual and cumbersome when performing updates to hardware firmware, drivers, etc. This type of work is often mundane and tedious — taking up time that could be better spent focusing on more strategic projects.

In addition, just like in business, higher education institutions have SLAs (service level agreements) that dictate application availability for critical applications, such as student services information systems and learning management systems. Students and faculty demand 24/7 availability. How does one manage this “continuity” requirement? High availability and resiliency fall under the category of infrastructure management as well. If you want some form of continuity, you need a proper data protection plan in place, as well as a means to continue operations in the event of a disaster that renders the production systems unavailable. This takes time, knowledge, and planning, not to mention a financial investment, if redundant infrastructure is required.

What if IT could focus on delivering new applications to administrative faculty and students, rather than focusing their time, energy, and budget on maintaining the existing infrastructure? Today’s critical educational applications offer more flexibility and productivity for students and faculty. Students demand their application experiences be available on mobile platforms. They want to consume IT as they would anything else. If the university wants to attract and retain the best students possible, they must be at the forefront of technology. That means delivering modern applications that are both cloud-based and mobile-enabled. The same goes for faculty. If they can easily use their learning management systems, they will, in turn, be more productive and focus more time and energy on teaching and research.

So how do you solve the puzzle of helping collegiate IT organizations to become more agile and focus their time and energy on delivering new applications that further the mission of the college? The answer is simple. Find a way to offload the day-to-day management of existing infrastructure to a managed services partner who has the operational expertise in critical student and administrative applications as well as the means to deliver current applications 24/7 through a cloud-based data protection approach. You may find that outsourcing these critical, but mundane tasks will be financially feasible while enabling the in-house IT staff to focus on what’s most important.

American Digital has the expertise of working with educational infrastructure as well as knowledge of core applications used by higher education. As a managed service provider, we can help you move your mission forward in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call: 847-637-4300

Case for Higher-Ed to Outsource Infrastructure Management

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by Daniella Lundsberg

Colleges and universities have it tough these days, especially the smaller ones. Lower enrollments mean smaller endowments, and weaker revenue streams. Every dollar must be spent wisely. The current generation of incoming students were born digital and are tech savvy. Not only do students select their higher education options based on culture and fit, but available technology is important to them. They expect to use collaborative messaging and mobile applications as part of their college experience.

Many smaller schools are relying on older technology to run their student information and administrative systems. The legacy technology is expensive to maintain and complex to manage. IT operations spends lots of time and money just keeping up with the existing infrastructure. At a time where higher education institutions are struggling for funding, this puts enormous pressure on IT organizations to keep up with rolling out modern applications, such as mobile-enabled apps and location-based services.

In addition to the pressure to deliver next-generation applications and keeping the campus network robust enough to handle the extra capacity required by the students’, faculty’s, and staff members’ ubiquitous phone usage, IT organizations also have to deal with high availability and resilience compliance. Having a proper continuity plan can be expensive and challenging to support.

All these pressures and challenges may seem daunting, but there is a way to move your school forward both from an IT perspective as well as focusing on the mission of the school. The answer is managed services. Financially, managed services make sense, as you can change your IT consumption model from CapEx to OpEx. Budgeting can be predictable and less expensive than capital outlays. Managed services offer many compelling benefits for smaller colleges and universities.

First of all, enlisting the help of a managed services partner who is well versed in how educational data centers are run can be helpful. For instance, the partner can help augment staff. Trusting someone who is familiar with the critical applications and operational aspects enables your staff to focus on more strategic projects — such as delivering mobile platforms, or cloud applications. Alternatively, outsourcing the IT services as a whole — including the infrastructure can be a compelling financial argument. Leveraging cloud-based applications through a consumption-based cost model while reducing on-site data center server and storage requirements can save colleges money in the long run. Not to mention, you can achieve your high-availability/resiliency SLAs without the cost of redundant hardware and software on-site. The cost savings can be used to focus on furthering the college’s mission and enable leadership to focus on what’s important.

American Digital has deep expertise with student information and learning management systems used by higher education institutions. Our managed services team also understands the challenges smaller schools wrestle with daily as they try to attract and retain the students they want, while working with outdated technology. Outsourcing your day-to-day IT operations just might be what you need to jump start your institution’s technology evolution.

Interested in learning more? Give us a call: 847-637-4300

University Shrinks Physical Footprint with Innovative Tech Infrastructure

Posted on: August 23rd, 2016 by Daniella Lundsberg

Purdue University is a leading academic institution, with more than 70,000 students. Its programs have produced multiple Nobel Prize winners, Fortune 500 CEOs, Super Bowl MVPs, Grammy Award winners, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Furthermore, Purdue is a leader in IT technology innovation, having the largest campus infrastructure for research and the nation’s fastest campus supercomputer. The IT department at Purdue is integral to campus operations, supporting applications for payroll and employee management, student information management, student registration, and online educational programs.

The university has two business data centers at its main campus that support its SAP systems; one for production and another for development and testing, with redundancy set up between the two sites. The hardware in both data centers was due for lifecycle replacement, so Purdue decided to consider not only other hardware options, but changes to its entire infrastructure. It also wanted to virtualize the environment to help increase efficiency and reduce space.

“We were primed for a paradigm shift in how we do business. We had challenges with power, cooling, and space in the data centers,” explains Dan Schumacher, director of hardware services and operations at Purdue. “We were also running various UNIX servers. We wanted to standardize on a Linux platform, and we wanted to shrink the footprint at both data centers.”

Graduation to a New Tech Solution

Using HP Converged Infrastructure technologies, Purdue worked with American Digital and HP Technical Services to upgrade both of the data centers on its main campus in West Lafayette. The two data centers are separated by about a mile and connected by fiber links. For redundancy, Purdue runs continuous replication between the two EVA8400 storage systems using the HP Continuous Access EVA Software. To back up its SAP environment, it implemented HP Data Protector, a software-based solution that uses the HP StoreOnce deduplication engine to minimize backup and recovery times.

Increased Performance and Cost Savings

Today Purdue has reduced the time required for backups and restores in its SAP environment. Using HP Data Protector, Purdue can now take live snapshots of its SAP environment without having to take everything offline. “Taking live snapshots of SAP is extremely difficult, and HP Technical Services actually wrote code for HP Data Protector to enable these live snapshots,” explains Williams. “The other benefit is that this code is now included in the general release, so other customers have access to it as well.”

“With HP Data Protector, we can take a snapshot and clone our entire system without taking down the SAP environment, so users never lose access,” says Edward Evans, director of software services at Purdue.

“By reducing the hardware required for our SAP environment by more than 80 percent, we have also reduced our annual power and cooling costs by about $51,000,” said Schumacher.

To learn more about American Digital and its solutions, visit American Digital’s case studies.

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Tackle Big Data?

Posted on: July 9th, 2015 by Daniella Lundsberg

Organizations ranging from healthcare, to education, to manufacturing, and Fortune 1000 companies across a wide swath of industries are candidates for Big Data implementations. Now is the time for information technology and line of business leaders to come together to understand when and how to tackle Big Data.

What exactly is Big Data?

Big Data is characterized by the four “Vs”:

Volume – the vast amount of data that is generated every second (This infographic1  illustrates where all this data comes from.)

Variety – the different forms of data, both structured–like patient health records, and unstructured–like your fitness tracker’s stats

Velocity – the speed at which data is generated and the speed at which data moves around– think skateboarding-cat viral videos

Veracity – the trustworthiness of data, especially that of unstructured data, from social media, for example

You can, and should, also add a fifth “V”:

Value – The “V” that matters most is the ability to turn all that data into business value.

How can I extract value from my Big Data?

More than ever, companies are trying to understand how Big Data can help their organizations operate more efficiently and better serve their customers. It is vitally important to determine the requirements of each line of business and develop use cases that illustrate real-world scenarios. For instance, an industry use case shows how healthcare and life sciences companies can use the HP Big Data Platform to improve patient analytics through multiple aspects of operations. The value is seen in many areas:

  • Patient outcomes can be improved by using analytics to prevent complications, increase the effectiveness of treatments, and manage predictive care.
  • Organizations can generate all the metrics they need at a moment’s notice to stay compliant with healthcare reform mandates.
  • Deep insights from real-time analyses of clinical data can help inform medical researchers.

(See use cases for Financial Services, Public Sector and other industries here.)

Where do I start?

Before you undertake a Big Data initiative, consider what kind of business value you want to derive and consult with an expert, like American Digital, who can help your organization tap into the value of your Big Data assets. We provide everything you need to profit from Big Data from assessments to strategic planning and use case development. We work with top technology partners like HP, SAP, and Hortonworks to provide custom Big Data & Analytics solutions from design to implementation and governance. As a Platinum HP partner, we are certified to support and implement Big Data solutions including HP’s Vertica, a versatile offering that allows clients access to an analytics platform that is designed to exploit a wide variety of data while enabling them to accelerate business value from simplified reporting and analysis processes.

Find out if it’s time for your organization to tackle Big Data. We’re here to help.

If you’re in Chicago on July 23, join us for our free 2015 American Digital Big Data Symposium. Tech execs from HP, SAP and Hortonworks will be in attendance. Plus, you can meet Big Data guru, Fortune 50 consultant, and rocket scientist, Chris Surdak. Register here.

1  Data Never Sleeps 2.0, DOMO

 

 

 

Measuring the Reputation Cost of Data Breach

Posted on: May 19th, 2015 by Daniella Lundsberg

The security landscape is constantly evolving, with businesses today fighting a cybercrime ecosystem that encompasses global players. Hackers now invest as much – if not more – toward exposing vulnerabilities as companies do in securing them. Assuming the right solutions are in place, most enterprises can stay under the radar and avoid a major breach. But there’s never a guarantee, and recent exposures at companies like Home Depot, Sony, and Target offer valuable insight that can help us all plan for and better comprehend the magnitude of loss potential.

The initial breach primarily affects the consumer, who faces bank-imposed limits and time-consuming card cancellations. For the business itself, along with that data loss, one of the greatest risks is long-term damage to the brand’s reputation. A trusted and established reputation can take decades to build – and mere seconds to destroy. Security breaches force companies to invest heavily in resources aimed at salvaging employee morale, stock valuation, consumer trust and loyalty. When customers are afraid to transact with a business, this also naturally puts a strain on traffic and revenue. For companies that survive a scandal, the fallout and ramifications can still take months to years to reconcile.

The extent of the damage and the time it takes to reinvigorate a brand’s reputation is largely dependent on the breadth of exposure and the manner in which the crisis is handled. Data breaches are one of three occurrences to have the greatest impact on brand reputation, according to a survey conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Experian’s Data Breach Resolution unit entitled “The Aftermath of a Mega Data Breach: Consumer Sentiment”. In this survey, data breach was ranked up with environmental disasters and poor customer service.

When evaluating potential risk, planning for crisis resolution, and assessing the cost of an enterprise security solution, tangible assets alone aren’t enough. Decision makers must also estimate the monetary value of, and the earning potential in, their brand reputation. They need to ask themselves: “How much is our brand reputation worth?”

Ready to for a security assessment? Contact the American Digital security team today.

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