Hybrid Cloud

Why Is Network Visibility Important To Higher Education IT Networks?

As college enrollment and student demographics continue to change over the next several years, it will be critical for higher education institutions to have a highly functioning IT network.

There will be two critical drivers for IT that include remote learning and Generation Z.

While remote learning is not new, it’s popularity will continue, if not actually increase, due to the convenience.

This means that education institutions will need to maintain and expand their investments in this area, i.e. it’s not a “one and done” scenario. There needs to be ample bandwidth that runs at peak performance. Anything less is agitating to consumers (i.e. students) who have lots of alternate choices when it comes to where to spend their tuition money.

The first key impact here to the IT department is that there must be a robust way to constantly measure network performance and quickly troubleshoot any network issues that are found. Network visibility technology like network packet brokers, taps, and active monitoring solutions are key components to resolving IT problems in this area.

Another fundamental issue popping up now is the use of cloud technology, like public cloud computing networks (e.g. Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon Web Services). These solutions make it very easy to “spin up and down” services as needed. However, there are challenges as far as synchronizing data between multiple clouds and on-premises networks. There is also the cost of cloud computing, which is often NOT as low as it is purported to be. A third issue is Day 2 maintenance cost and activities which are often not considered in the initial cloud computing value proposition. Performance and security concerns appear as a fourth and fifth problem to deal with.

The IT remedy for cloud computing issues is to understand that it is probably NOT the case that all IT operations should be moved to the cloud — just the ones that make sense. Several studies have found that businesses are starting to move some of their operations away from cloud networks and back to their on-premises data centers. Two independent studies (one from IDC and another from Virtana) both found that approximately 71% to 72% of businesses are moving some or all of those public cloud workloads back to on-prem. While these businesses are typically enterprises, the data should also be transferable to university networks that operate in a similar fashion — meaning that a successful educational IT network will probably consist of a hybrid of a cloud network and a physical on-premises network. When implemented correctly, a hybrid architecture can often deliver the best of both worlds. Taps placed into the cloud networks can capture the pertinent information and relay that data to a packet broker in the physical on-premises. The packet broker then consolidates both virtual and physical packet data and sends the data to on-premises tools for a wholistic analysis of what is happening across the network.

Generation Z, being the most technologically mobile generation yet, will be a huge technological driver requiring significant device mobility on campus. This means 5G and 6G mobile networks with high bandwidth and high-speed wireless LAN technology. Performance and data throughput are going to be key metrics that demand active monitoring solutions that cannot measure on-network performance but SLA performance in near real-time for all third-party vendors for leased solutions.

More Information on Hybrid Cloud Visibility

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