Connected Campuses: Colleges, Universities and their Networks

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Summer break is almost over for college students all over the country, and that means one thing for college and university IT teams, prepping their IT networks for the unavoidable increase in network activity, with many dreading the inevitable volume spikes that arrive faster than freshman dorms fill up with microwaves and futons. 

College students are more connected today than ever, with most bringing a myriad of communications devices with them—computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, and even smart TVs—for a variety of reasons. And those reasons vary—attending online classes, accessing library resources remotely, conducting group study sessions via Skype, or maybe even just watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix. No matter the reason, this influx of smart equipment strains a college IT network during even the most normal of days, but becomes crippling during peak periods such as course registration, midterms or the much-dreaded finals week.

This network overload challenge is not new to college campuses, but is increasing as students and faculty continue their multiple-device dependencies. With demanding workloads, research requiring transfer of huge files or the use of multiple applications and systems, continued IT network pressure is certain— especially when the number of devices used outweighs the number of users.

So how can colleges and universities build new or fortify existing “connected campus” networks?

The primary problem is not the amount of bandwidth available, but rather the optimization of that bandwidth. The solution is not always a simple increase in speeds, but instead, a smarter allocation of the speeds available.  And that optimization starts with visibility, such as Windstream’s Advanced Application Reporting (AAR).

AAR provides comprehensive management reports reflecting network activity for intervals including the last hour, day, or week. Used as a monitoring system, campus IT staff have the ability to quickly troubleshoot network connectivity and reroute bandwidth based on current Wide Area Network (WAN) traffic.

Many content-rich applications used in higher education require more processing power than a single server can provide, as high server load and interface throughput causes response times to drag and servers to bog down. So in addition to optimizing campus network performance, IT staff can implement a managed load balancing solution such as Windstream’s Managed Load Balancing, which offers 24x7 support within Windstream’s data centers to monitor and balance server load and throughput. Managed Load Balancing optimizes IT network and server performance to deliver the ultimate goal: a positive end-user experience.

Are you looking for ways to optimize your college or university network? Set your campus up for success—contact a Windstream trusted advisor to learn more about our data, voice, network and cloud solutions for higher education and keep your faculty and students connected when they need it most.