The ultimate goal for many higher ed institutions is to provide scalable resources on demand. But the greatest obstacle faced by most college and university IT departments during periods of growth is infrastructure sprawl. When IT infrastructure is deployed to meet growing administrative demands, the traditional approach has been to create distinct silos that support individual applications and services. Unfortunately, this results in an extremely slow, inefficient use of resources across the campus.
So how are we approaching this problem at Morris?
My approach today is to minimize our server infrastructure at the Morris campus, taking advantage of server hosting by OIT. We aren't eliminating our servers, but reducing our systems to what provides the most benefits to campus. We're leveraging the OIT virtual server hosting service, so OIT manages the operating systems and the hardware, and we support the applications and configuration.
Interestingly, I initiated the virtual server hosting right before I left OIT, so now I'm a customer of what I helped set up.
I'm also focusing on reducing individual "point solutions" in favor of shared services model. For example, moving our 5 web servers for personal web sites down to 1 server. This helps us reduce costs, while making it easier for Computing Services to support the campus. Especially because it allows us to focus their time on the faculty and students, and less so on managing a bunch of server hardware.