2017 Predictions: Initiating the Future of Education IT

Tim Merrigan, Vice President, State, Local and Education (SLED) at VMware

Tim Merrigan, Vice President, State, Local and Education (SLED) at VMware

Information, and therefore information technology, is central and critical to learning and education—now more than ever. When we conceptualize and visualize the next generation of our work in higher education IT, we should also look through the principles of learning itself. Whether we’re drawing new information and insights from a series of trial-and-error solutions, careful testing of hypotheses and theories, or an existing body of knowledge, we can apply the same lessons of learning to the technology that powers the learning environment.

Unlocking the Capabilities of Virtualization

When I speak with higher education customers, I often see gaps in their understanding of what virtualization can achieve and the capabilities it can unlock for them. For many, when referencing virtualization, it’s the basic concepts of server virtualization—the foundational achievements of our company’s early days—they call to mind. But capabilities beyond that—such as the empowerment of private, public, and hybrid cloud environments—are at their fingertips, and yet aren’t even twinkles in their eyes or their procurement budgets.

The Challenge of Decentralized IT

Procurement itself is another potential problem area. A major challenge for learning institutions is the decentralization of IT. Oftentimes, individual departments at the periphery of an institution adopt various strategies and technologies at a rapid pace and with great enthusiasm. This can create challenges for central IT leadership as they proceed in a more deliberate fashion, taking into consideration security, compliance, scalability, and cost. This sort of “general theory of innovation relativity” establishes a concerning paradigm of greater risk, and therefore greater costs, that can exist when the central IT mechanism is not prepared to adapt to and enable newer technologies its many arms may be exploring.

We can mitigate this scenario through the enhanced agility we offer through the virtualized network ecosystem. It’s our responsibility to educate the educators on achieving this potential agility. We’ve gotten them this far, after all, having already driven, among other transformations, the mainstream acceptance of server virtualization and virtual desktop infrastructures as commodities while establishing software solutions as the true value centers.

VMware can continue laying the groundwork for tech advancement by learning from our past successes, building on the methods that we have already used to turn education technology on its head and establish yesterday’s innovations as today’s mainstream technology foundation. The challenge now is continuing to deliver a message that resonates across education IT ecosystems and takes advantage of the architecture we’ve already built for educational institutions.

Read more from VMware executives on what’s to come for technology innovation in 2017 and beyond.