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Case Study Higher Education

EDUCAUSE 2023 Session Recap: Empowering Education with Cloud Technology

Marianna Noll

3 min read

Last updated on February 14th, 2024 at 9:45am

The Kion team exhibited at the recent EDUCAUSE 2023 event, where higher education and research professionals come together to learn, network, and browse the expo floor. In addition to our spot in the expo, we were privileged to join the University of Oregon in a session that was packed with attendees.

Here are some highlights - and the replay - of the presentation featuring Christy Long, the Associate CIO for Technology Infrastructure and Chief of Staff at the University of Oregon, and Randy Shore, who leads Kion's delivery and support team.

Challenges Along the Cloud Journey

The University of Oregon's cloud journey is driven by a dual mission: to accelerate research and enable teaching and learning with cutting-edge cloud technology. However, like many higher ed institutions, they face unique challenges across different teams as they look to achieve secure, repeatable cloud operations that are aligned to budget.

Christy shared three specific challenges the University faced as they began their cloud journey.

Challenge 1: Academic Cloud Adoption

Christy kicked off her presentation by describing the University's transition from a strong liberal arts history to a data science future. The need to support a growing portfolio of new research and academic programs influenced the University's approach to their cloud journey.

In talking to the Computer Science faculty, Christy learned of their challenges supporting data science and delivering access to high-performance computing:

  • Students bring their own laptops, making setup and access time-consuming.
  • Even with step-by-step instructions, faculty were spending significant time getting individual student environments to work.

The University needed a ready-built environment for introductory students to bypass a large initial barrier and allow them to open classes to individuals otherwise underrepresented in the field.

"When you think about a Chemistry Lab: we don’t expect students to buy their own chemicals, beakers, and pipettes – we provide them," Christy noted.

Challenge 2: Budget Constraints

Budgeting for cloud technology in an educational setting presents its own set of hurdles. Determining the exact cost per student per term is crucial, as the goal is to strike a balance between affordability and functionality. While the University set an initial budget target per student per term, there was some uncertainty of what the actual cost was going to be. Tracking and visibility during a pilot was key.

Challenge 3: Limited Staff Resources

As the University ventured into this new territory, there was an inherent hesitancy regarding the level of technical support required. There was a concern that faculty might demand dedicated staff to provide ongoing support for students, which could be a resource-intensive endeavor.

Cloud Success at the University

With these challenges in mind, the University chose Kion for multi-cloud management to facilitate secure, repeatable cloud operations and budget visibility. The University adopted several foundational strategies:

  • Automate Everything: Automation plays a crucial role in lowering support costs and streamlining processes.
  • Faculty Empowerment: Faculty members take ownership of the cloud-based learning environment, gaining a deeper technical understanding of the system. They are actively involved in resolving student issues, which significantly reduced the burden on IT support.
  • Single Pane of Glass: Kion's platform provides a unified view of multiple cloud providers, simplifying management and enabling easy tracking of budget and resource usage.

"We were able to achieve success with Kion – and we’ve just scratched the surface," Christy concluded.

The collaboration between the University of Oregon and Kion is a prime example of how cloud technology can revolutionize education. While challenges are inevitable, a strategic approach, automation, and faculty engagement have allowed the University to pave the way for an exciting future in cloud-based education.

About the Author

Marianna Noll

Marianna is the Senior Director of Marketing at Kion.

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