Tom Horan


As IBM Power Systems have matured, cloud services built on them have grown dramatically. In the past, Universities have leveraged legacy on-prem infrastructure, but many are now embracing cloud computing to further connect students, educators, researchers, and alumni. Technology helps strengthen collaboration between faculty and students, transforms traditional learning techniques, and provides researchers with increased access to resources.

A modern campus with constant digital connectivity is no longer just a hopeful vision of the future; cloud computing has arrived. Universities embracing the cloud are inherently investing in the betterment of faculty, staff, and students. The cloud provides a unified space for an increased level of productivity, visibility, and transparency. Students are learning in new ways and researchers are gaining new insights with access to a vastly larger amount of data and computing power than they have ever had before. IBM Power Systems are uniquely positioned to benefit Universities as they are robust, mature, and excel at computing heavy activities like data analysis and machine learning that educational institutions have embraced. Read on to learn how cloud computing solutions such as IBM Power Systems are reshaping and improving higher education.

1. Improved Connectivity

Cloud computing improves the overall student experience by modernizing how students interact with the institution. It is now an expectation that a school is on the same level of IT fluency as their students. Core administrative and admissions tasks are expected to be completed online or by simply launching a mobile app. Students expect to use devices and have access to reliable, high-speed wireless campus-wide. The cloud offers an integrated platform for students to remain connected 24/7. With the rise of mobile technology, students worldwide have adapted to mobile learning. Some students write entire essays on their phones, read source articles online, and take notes saved to cloud platforms. The cloud provides students the chance to use whichever devices they prefer when studying or working on a project while remaining connected both on and off-campus.

2. Rise in MOOC: Massive Open Online Courses

Similar to the growth of telecommuting, online courses for students have boomed. Online enrollment in university classes have been growing – Based on federal data from more than 4,700 colleges and universities, more than 6.3 million students in the U.S. – most of whom were undergraduates – took at least one online course in fall 2016, a 5.6 percent increase from the previous year. These MOOC courses are solely online and generally support an unlimited number of student enrollments and include academic videos, homework assignments, problem sets, and exams that are all taken remotely. With this essentially unlimited scalable platform for education, cloud platforms like IBM Power are the ideal solution for hosting online courses.

3. More Time for Innovation

University IT departments have traditionally focused on upgrading and maintaining on-prem hardware, but the cloud offers a superior alternative that has a lower total cost of ownership. With the help of a third-party managed services provider, focusing on system maintenance and IBM iSeries support is a thing of the past. With the extra time saved not managing your platform, your IT team can focus on innovation. University IT teams that no longer have to focus on maintaining infrastructure can turn their attention to building new applications to promote more interactive learning experiences, enable research with machine learning, and improve the mental health of students by providing access to online resources and video consultations. When it is difficult for students to be in-person, virtual experiences can provide students with a sense of connectedness that they would otherwise miss out on.

4. Reduced Cost

Schools are constantly facing budget constraints. While making a move to the cloud requires initial capital investment, there are significant long-term cost savings. Implementing cloud infrastructure at a University can have a trickle-down effect of reducing student loan debt. According to Forbes, institutions that have implemented cloud solutions have been able to cut back or maintain the same tuition rates, keeping the cost of education more affordable. The student loan crisis has students accumulating staggering amounts of debt for higher education. No longer needing to invest in expensive infrastructure, universities can become more efficient without sacrificing the quality of education.

5. Increased Competitive Advantage

Cloud computing enables data-driven decision making, which brings insights such as a better understanding of program effectiveness and can subsequently measure and track student performance. Gathering accurate data allows the university to see how students are doing academically as well as how the institution is doing financially. Additionally, teaching effectiveness can be improved as Universities can understand how to best deliver information for maximum impact. Researchers are also enabled to quickly test their ideas in the cloud, which ultimately will attract more students and grant money for the university.

With the rise of mobile technology in the classroom and the cloud, the role of a CIO is constantly evolving and can be both challenging and frustrating. A third-party partner can help maintain your IT ecosystem can help you plan for your migration to the cloud. Meridian’s decades of IBM Power expertise and cloud migrations mean that you can stop worrying about your infrastructure and focus on improving the University experience for your students and faculty. Get your complimentary cloud readiness assessment today by calling +1 (888) 684-3644 or sending an email to