• Education

    Higher Education IT Trends and Challenges

    As we move towards a "24/7 culture", an increasing number of higher education institutions (universities and colleges) are providing faculty members and students access to a growing volume of online and Web-based content. This includes access to e-learning applications (Moodle, etc), social media sites (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, university's internal social media software, alumni networks, etc), faculty members' webmail access (Gmail, OWA, etc), interactive web portals, online exams, and more.

    In parallel to the growth in web traffic, there has been a proliferation in the adoption of CRM and ERP applications (Oracle-PeopleSoft, SunGard, etc) within higher education institutions as the main means of managing the student's life cycle in the institution (from enrolment to graduation), managing the institution's funds and finances, relationship management (including reaching out to prospects), and more.

    The move towards user registration and billing using web-based ERP applications entails a change in the way higher education institutions are regarded by government and financial organizations, which now require institutions to comply with strict handling standards for credit cards billing and clearing (e.g. PCI).

    Designed to help institutions streamline processes, provide more educational content, and cut cost, this growth in online access and Web based content introduces unfamiliar challenges to IT managers. Traditionally, university IT managers had to deal primarily with the institution's LAN, intranet and Internet access. However, now they must address issues such as guaranteeing 24/7 access to revenue generating business critical applications, ensuring end-user QoE (Quality of Experience) , and protecting student records from being stolen by hackers, etc. The emerging trends in the IT education business space of bring with them new business continuity related challenges for IT managers.

    These challenges can be broken down into four categories:

    Attackers have added zero-minute and application misuse attacks to their arsenal on top of tradition vulnerability based attacks. Application misuse attacks hijack application transactions for malicious purposes such as usernames and password guessing attacks, application vulnerability scanning, application flooding and more. These attacks can lead to denial of service, student records theft and malware spread.

    Tying together the need to maintain business continuity of campus services along with emerging network attacks, the key security challenges that IT managers face in the campus environment include: maintaining data center resources availability when under attack, preventing campus computing resource misuse, and protecting information integrity and leakage.

    In addition to security concerns, IT managers must also protect against credit card theft and fraud, and comply with the PCI DSS, which applies to all merchants and service providers who store, process, or transmit cardholder data.

    Higher education institutions continuously strive to increase the number of new students, while in parallel they also increase the number of web-based and online services provided to enrolled students. These two parallel paths bring together an on-going growth in the amount of users and traffic that IT infrastructure has to accommodate. Therefore, as the traffic grows so must the infrastructure be aligned to meet the new business requirements for capacity increase.

    Given today's negative economic outlook, organizations are striving to maximize their short-term and long-term CAPEX savings. As upgrading infrastructure means more money spent, one of the most significant challenges is to minimize hardware replacements and optimally spend budget on infrastructure. Managing such network architecture can be a challenge and may dramatically impact the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the system.

    The IT manager must now guarantee that all data center business critical applications are up and running 24/7 for any user accessing from any location, whether from within the data center and campus to internal applications (e.g. Oracle-PeopleSoft, SunGard, CMS or email) or over the Internet to public applications (e.g. extranet or student portals). This means guaranteeing that on one hand all web, application and database servers are operational and monitored in real time. On the other hand, guarantee that all Internet (WAN) connections are operational so that access to the data center is uninterrupted.

    Guaranteeing ongoing Internet continuity is important due to the growth in web-based content, which is now regularly provided to users accessing the institution's data center over the Internet.

    IT managers must also guarantee that users receive good QoE (Quality of Experience) when accessing the content. This is critical when users access virtual class rooms or download video streams or files. In addition, it is important that users experience good performance when accessing the Internet from within the campus network.

    Both guaranteed QoE and performance are greatly affected by the amount of traffic that flows through the data center's network and Internet links. It is up to the IT manager to try and limit the unwanted traffic, in order to guarantee sufficient bandwidth for the critical applications.

    Higher Education Solutions

    Radware helps educational institutions' IT organizations meet these challenges by making it easier for educational institutions to provide faster, more reliable and safer transactions. By optimizing and securing the performance of IP applications across academic networks, Radware enables online learning while controlling bandwidth usage. The result includes reduced networked application operating and scaling costs.

    Radware APSolute solution for higher education institutions, guarantees the availability of locally hosted and global dispersed mission critical applications (Oracle-PeopleSoft, SAP, Web, Social Software, etc), and data centers.

    Using Radware's best-of-breed Global Redirection and multi-WAN link switching solutions, higher education institutions can ensure that any user (student, faculty, administrator, and prospective students) can access the required applications whenever it is required, regardless of their location (local or accessing from home or from another country) and distance from the institutions campus.

    Using Radware's APSolute solution for higher education institutions, IT managers can improve business critical applications' performance and ensure fastest content delivery to end users, as well as prevent non-business critical applications (P2P, online-gaming, movie streaming) from misusing WAN bandwidth. Thus ensuring that service levels are met and QoE is high.

    In addition, using Radware's best-of-breed application acceleration and offloading technologies, IT managers gain improved performance and maximized utilization of all network resources (Web and application servers, WAN links, etc).

    Radware APSolute solution for higher education institutions provides a unique security framework, which provides full protection against vulnerability and non- vulnerability based IPS and DoS attacks from harming the institution's applications, while at the same time allowing legitimate users to continue accessing resources.

    In addition, Radware's solution utilizes the latest security measures to ensure the confidentiality and security of electronic information (student records, student identities, digital information, institution researches, grants, etc), as well as meet strict regulatory and compliances requirements (FERPA, DMCA, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, etc).

    Finally, Radware's solution also protects institutions from liability charges and litigation, by guaranteeing the campus network is not used to launch attacks on external Web sites and by blocking the download of illegal content (videos, songs, etc).

    Higher education institutions must now accommodate a growing number of users and applications, and growing amounts of traffic. The growth in users and traffic means, that the underline network infrastructure must grow in parallel in order to accommodate the ongoing growth.

    Radware's unique on-demand infrastructure allows scaling cost-effectively to accommodate future growth in users, applications, and traffic due to its industry-unique "pay-as-you-grow" approach and OnDemand hardware platforms.

    In addition, Radware's solution allows increasing asset return on investment (ROI) and reducing CAPEX, by utilizing existing applications and network infrastructure while increasing number of served students and managed traffic.

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