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University and college campuses are often at the forefront of technology adoption. “Institutions are using technologies to remake higher education,” said Susan Grajek earlier this year, noting the innovative use of mobile devices by educators and students and the importance of IT adaptiveness for the future. Leading edge research and the educational requirements of today’s students place a heavy burden on IT to support the complex infrastructure requirements in higher education.

Whether IT is managed centrally or per-department, colleges, and universities face common challenges related to endpoint management:

Safeguarding data and intellectual property

Safeguarding the private information and intellectual property for students, faculty, and staff is of the utmost importance. The US Department of Education is cracking down on institutions that do not meet basic cybersecurity standards. End users are often the biggest risk to data security.

Building adaptable infrastructure

Device lifecycles and OS preferences differ between departments, with some departments (such as design or computer science) requiring more frequent upgrades to both hardware and software. Most large colleges and universities deploy devices / entire labs regularly, requiring an adaptable IT infrastructure that can accommodate a complex and ever-changing endpoint environment. Today, that goes beyond robust standard Wi-Fi and network optimization tools to include high-performance research networks and network and storage accommodations for virtual reality (VR).

Managing complexity

Device refresh cycles continue to introduce new devices and operating systems into the mix, while legacy devices don’t always “go away.” Coupled with university- and college-owned devices and labs, every student, researcher, and professor wants to connect their own device (or three) to the network and access specialized software. Managing complex device environments and supporting the requirements of end users leads to delays and critical gaps in visibility and security.

Although device environments may be complex, management does not have to be. IT staff needs simple processes and tools to future-proof IT management, data security, and end user productivity. Unified device management can help streamline deployment and management of complex environments while self-service can help students supply their learning needs on-demand without compromising data security.

The 15th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) this month challenges academic institutions and students to address the “shared responsibility” of cybersecurity. In our next post, we will discuss the critical role that education plays in preparing the next generation of professionals, from K-12 to higher education and beyond.

“Students are fascinated by the FileWave Kiosk,” said Mathias Toth, IT Manager at the Zurich University of Applied Science, “they love that it is so easy to get the software they need. And I don’t need to send out cumbersome instruction manuals to install applications - no one read them anyway. And there’s no need to give Admin Rights to end-users.”

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