Bridgewater State University: Revamping IT Infrastructure
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Bridgewater State University: Revamping IT Infrastructure

By Steve Zuromski, AVP of Information Technology, Bridgewater State University

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Steve Zuromski, AVP of Information Technology, Bridgewater State University

"21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure," is an adage most decision makers today firmly believe in. Quite obviously, since an enterprise’s infrastructure plays a vital role in determining its success, CIOs don’t want to leave any stone unturned to ensure their infrastructure meets their internal needs and those of clients. Industry veteran and AVP of Information Technology at Bridgewater State University, Steve Zuromski joins our chief editor for a conversation to reveal his perspective of IT infrastructure services today.

IT Infrastructure in Educational Institutions

IT infrastructure today is shrinking because of the advent of the cloud. Many enterprises are shunning their existing storage and compute infrastructure to exploit the benefits of the cloud model. Currently, four data centers exist on the premises of Bridgewater State University and our team has embarked on a journey in consolidating, with the ultimate goal of eliminating them completely. A significantly old Dell EMC storage array connected to multiple blade enclosures is the institution’s on-premise hardware that’s turning obsolete and incurring high maintenance costs. The route adopted by Bridgewater State University to accomplish hardware elimination efficiently is an investment in cloud and hyperconverged technologies if they insist on keeping the tradition of on-premise infrastructure alive. The management had recently adopted cutting-edge products to amplify its own capabilities.

"Organizations need to strongly consider leveraging cloud based storage – as well as other IaaS/PaaS/SaaS technologies as part of their overall service delivery strategy which has the direct benefits of improving disaster recovery posture, reduce dependencies on on-premise infrastructure, and improve operational efficiency and effectiveness"

One of Bridgewater State University’s noteworthy accomplishments of recent times was becoming one of the only higher education institution in the northeast with dedicated fiber optic cabling to the Markley Group, a New England-based data center pioneer located in Boston Massachusetts. The dedicated fiber optic network sprawling over a distance of 35 miles positions the university to offload many of its workloads to Markley and leverage the benefits of colocation as well as other cloud services. This move has helped the university decrease its footprint on campus.

Suggestion to Contemporary Chief Information Officers (CIOs)

The concept of colocation is one prong in the university’s overall strategy in reducing our footprint on campus. BSU envisions to partner with other higher-education institutions in Massachusetts in an effort to “share services” and achieve an overall cost savings. The advantage of partnering with other educational institutions is to share infrastructure and thus decrease expenditures as well as shun obsolete storage mechanisms existing on-premise. Organizations also need to strongly consider leveraging cloud based storage – as well as other IaaS/PaaS/SaaS as part of their overall service delivery strategy which has the direct benefits of improving disaster recovery posture, reduce dependencies on on-premise infrastructure, and improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.

The team at Bridgewater State University believes in a ‘cloud-first’ strategy and is currently refraining from procuring any new on-premise server or storage infrastructure. Although Bridgewater State University has adopted trending applications such as Office 365 for productivity applications and Skype for Business for unified messaging, the university is also putting its best foot forward to exploit the benefits of popular public cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Quite recently, Bridgewater State University moved large chunks of crucial data to the Azure environment, thus reducing a major dependency on on-premise infrastructure. We also invest significantly in staff professional development to ensure our team is well-trained to efficiently and effectively utilize these cutting-edge models and transport existing workloads seamlessly. Having a well-educated team is critical in order to exploit the benefits of cloud infrastructure and to make sound business decision to improve service delivery and achieve cost effectiveness.

Backup and Security

The recent times have seen the emergence of several solutions such as cloud VM backups which are sophisticated measures in data protection and prevention of loss. Bridgewater State University has invested in cloud backup technologies for quite some time now and the educational institution has been able to accomplish backups more rapidly and reliably since the time the team started. Security is an important aspect of infrastructure which organizations simply can’t afford to overlook. The University has elected to run a formal project every year in an effort to improve is information security posture. Devising an optimal surveillance and access strategy that closely monitors enterprise premises cost-effectively is as important as implementing data security measures. Bridgewater State University is making several strategic investments in amplifying its security capabilities.

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