4 ways object storage powers higher-ed initiatives

 
By Jon Toor
CMO, Cloudian
February 3rd, 2020

In higher education today, technology and learning go hand-in-hand. From online coursework, instructional videos, digital versions of textbooks and advanced research and analytics, technology has become a critical component in facilitating student success and driving higher education operations.

This increasing use of technology has led to rapid data growth and, in turn, the need for a robust storage foundation. Without the proper storage system in place, fully serving students, faculty and staff becomes impossible.

Universities are turning to object storage to manage data, enable content access across devices, and ensure students and data remain safe. Object storage eliminates the scaling limitations of traditional enterprise storage systems, enabling institutions to quickly grow deployments without having to purchase additional systems, add management workload and undertake complex data migrations. Object storage is particularly suited for four trends in higher education.

Managing data across departments

While all departments know the challenges of rapid data growth, initiatives on using that data vary across departments—for example, the need to store, share, and edit video in a digital art department or the need to complete advanced analytical research in a science department.

Without an effective storage solution in place, operations are slowed, and storage capacity hits a cap. Object storage offers limitless capacity to ensure all data can be managed, stored and accessible at any time, without disruption.

Powering a student-centric campus

An EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) survey of 64,536 students from 130 institutions found that 89 percent of students have access to both laptops and smartphones and 18 percent of those students have access to a desktop computer and a tablet.

Because object storage provides cloud-like accessibility, data can be geographically distributed across multiple locations yet remain easily accessible from any type of device at anytime from anywhere. This allows students to seamlessly access university applications, resources, and content from multiple devices at any given time and place, facilitating student success and easing information access across preferred devices.

Keeping data protected and secure in the face of increased regulation

Higher education institutions are tasked with keeping an abundance of personal and intellectual data secure – including names, addresses, social security numbers, financial information, and research.

Because this data can be used to commit identity theft, educational institutions are vulnerable to cyber criminals. Verizon’s 2019 data breach incident report found 382 breach incidents in the education sector alone last year. Adopting object storage adds a data protection defense layer with access controls, data encryption and federal government-recognized security certifications.

Object storage also protects data with technologies that distribute data across nodes and regions to ensure another copy of data is available in the event of a hardware failure or site disaster.

With growing privacy regulations, keeping data compliant and out of the wrong hands is more critical than ever. With object storage, sensitive data can be kept on-premises, meaning data is stored in an organization’s data center and out of the public cloud. In addition, on-premises object storage does not entail the unpredictable egress fees that come with public cloud usage, instead ensuring predictable costs that will not change over time.

Leveraging video surveillance for student safety

College campuses are increasingly implementing video surveillance systems to improve safety and help campus police deter and identify crime. Aside from the natural deterrent effect of video cameras, high-resolution cameras combined with smart sensors and geo-fencing techniques can detect anomalies and alert officers to potential threats before an incident occurs. However, the hundreds of cameras needed to cover a campus generate a large amount of data that needs to be stored and analyzed.

Object storage allows this data to be cost-effectively stored and easily searched, which simplifies the process of finding and analyzing footage. Highly scalable object storage is also key to storing, managing and accessing these inherently large video files.

University of Leicester puts object storage in action

The University of Leicester recently adopted Cloudian object storage to simplify its data protection processes and reduce storage space and cost. With the storage architecture it had in place, the loss of a single media server would have resulted in a total lack of access to backup data or restores, potentially for weeks while the IT team acquired and installed new hardware.

Needing a better solution, the University deployed Cloudian object storage which cut storage space requirements by 50 percent and is expected to save 25 percent in data storage costs. Cloudian offered the university:

• Ease of management/installation
• Ability to move media servers to a shared storage environment
• Space efficiency – previously needed 48U of rack space for 2.5 petabytes of usable storage, while Cloudian offers same capacity in just 24U (50 percent savings)
• Built-in redundancy – no longer need to worry about a single point of failure/can refresh servers when needed with no disruption
• Minimal administration – self-contained
• Scalable to meet growing data demands

Object storage is already transforming the way universities manage data, and adoption will increase in the coming years. According to Gartner, by 2024 organizations will triple their unstructured data from what they have in 2019. By providing limitless capacity, on-demand scalability, advanced data protection, cost savings and cloud like accessibility, object storage can help universities power student success through technology.

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