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When a University Accidentally Becomes an ISP

IT departments at educational institutions face uniquely challenging requirements particularly when providing and sustaining an intranet. Large or small, colleges and universities are faced with providing reliable connectivity over a broad geographical area with multiple buildings and structures. Without question the largest customer” segment, in terms of both numbers and bandwidth usage, are the students but the academic and business segments have unique requirements as well. Stressing this already complex network management function is the explosion of mobile devices and the increased service expectations of the customers using them. Scope creep doesn’t begin to describe the growth in demand and responsibility that the typical university IT department has experienced in the past few years. But, when increased demand meets fixed resources, something has to give.

Traditionally educational institutions have tried to manage their networks using internal resources. When first established, networks were fairly simple affairs and managing and maintaining them was easily within the capabilities of most IT departments. Few, however, foresaw the rapid and diverse advances in wireless technology and applications, and fewer still were equipped with the resources to meet the new demands. The net result was they found themselves being de facto ISPs for their campus customers, most of whom didn’t appreciate the limitations of the intranet but rather expected the same services they received from their private ISP accounts.

Managers of IT departments found themselves dealing with service issues that the infrastructure simply wasn’t designed to accommodate. Patching became the standard fix and the more things were patched the more patches they needed. IT managers became the equivalent of CEOs of underfunded, under staffed, under equipped ISPs.
Taking a look around the wireless neighborhood

While universities have unique applications for wireless, the need for scalability, coverage, reliability, security, monitoring and maintenance are common to all networks. A look around the wireless neighborhood” reveals other large scale operations like high end hotels, marinas and sports venues who also have the 80/20 customer split (guests/business applications) are effectively meeting their wireless needs without investing in large technical staffs and infrastructure.

How do they do that? They outsource their wireless needs to the professionals at Deep Blue Communications, an engineering and wireless service company that designs, installs and services customized networks. Outsourcing makes sense on so many levels.

Let’s take a look at how it applies to a college or university:

  • Manager of IT services. The head of the department is freed of the administrative duties inherent with managing a staff including scheduling, payroll and day to day supervision. Instead, the department head manages a relationship with the vendor. There is a significant difference in terms of time and productivity. The Manager can then focus on solutions for new service requests from both the student body and the academic and business communities.
  • RESNet problems disappear. The largest source of service requests and security issues, the RESNet, becomes the responsibility of Deep Blue Communications. This feature alone is worth the move from internal solutions to outsourcing.
  • An environment that encourages innovation. When everyday basic wireless needs are met consistently and reliably, the academic and business communities have the opportunity to explore what universities are famous for…innovations. When the prevailing attitude changes from why is this thing so slow” to what if we could”, new wireless applications that enhance the university experience, and productivity result.
  • Mission accomplished. Providing a foundation of cutting edge infrastructure and world class service to students, faculty and administrators is the hallmark of a successful IT department. Outsourcing, giving the task to a firm whose core competencies are in wireless design and management, assures that the university’s IT department will earn a reputation as a department who gets the job done.

Deep Blue Communications manages over 1,000 networks. Our partners include Ruckus Wireless and their ground breaking wireless antenna technology, BeamFlex, and a select list of wireless hardware suppliers whose common denominator is innovation and reliability.

If you are responsible for the intranet at an educational institution, you owe it to yourself, and to the university, to explore the possibilities of outsourcing. Deep Blue Communications is a flexible turn-key provider with a wealth of wireless experience. Why not contact us today to at least understand the possibilities.

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