Veeam calls for more direct investment in IT infrastructure to keep pace with soaring digital education spend

Veeam Software, the innovative provider of solutions that delivers Availability for the Always-On Enterprise, called for education institutions in the UK to reassess investments between IT infrastructure and digital content ahead of the new academic year.

At present, spend on digital education is increasing yearly. The UK education sector has one of the highest levels of technology deployments, with 1.4 students per computer according to the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA). Across the UK in 2015, £900m was spent on technology in schools, with £95m spent on software and digital content in the same period.

However, this transformation in digital learning resources is not in parallel with the relatively small investments being made in technical IT systems. The influx of connected learning resources will put immense strain on under-equipped infrastructure, creating an Availability Gap between what students are expecting and the realities of what schools and universities can deliver.

Research from the 2016 Veeam Availability Report of 1,140 IT decision-makers across 24 countries shows that just 36 percent of private and Higher Education institutions are currently investing in private cloud infrastructure, while only 23 percent are using public clouds for Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). And, despite the vast rise in digitally connected learning equipment, only 30 percent are looking to add new IT sites or data centres to support the growth in online materials.

“This academic year will be the most technology-centred, digitally connected on record” said Richard Agnew, ?VP NW EMEA, Veeam Software. “The students approaching this year will see technology as second nature. Now, more than ever, is the optimal time for the education sector as a whole to think about the infrastructure that supports the wider trends in digital transformation. At this moment in time, we’re heading for a situation where the networks used by education institutions won’t be able to cope with the traffic and quantity of data they are being asked to handle. Of equal concern is how quickly students will be able to access information, applications and data when the network fails, as this fundamentally affects the learning experience. 24.7.365 availability of data and services must be the aim for UK schools and universities.”

Meanwhile, technology and delivering a connected learning programme is becoming a key differentiator for universities and Higher Education institutions, particularly in light of the hike in tuition fees that have been passed on to domestic and international students in recent years. Essential education materials such as learning resources, library files and assignment documents are digitised and stored centrally in university-owned or school repositories.

“What’s important is that schools and universities have in place a rapid and reliable mechanism for protecting and recovering student data, while providing real-time access to centralised services, including class programmes, research materials and in-class services. There’s no use in spending vast quantities on hardware, software and digital learning programmes when there’s no guarantee they can be accessed or recovered quickly. By ensuring that they are constantly available, or easily restored, operations can continue and the learning process can be seamless,” said Agnew.