Today, more and more colleges and universities rely on robust IT systems and innovative storage solutions to meet the needs of virtual environments and online learning experiences. As the number of students attending college continues to climb, so does the data behind the applications that are being used. In order to meet these growing demands, institutes of higher education must have quick and reliable solutions that support their systems.
That’s why schools like Southeastern Louisiana University put into place an all- flash array solution to deliver faster access to educational applications through its virtual desktop environment.  Their solution allows for shorter login times, support time saved for IT staff, and cost and space savings for the university – all critical components in providing a VDI environment to students that is scalable and efficient.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is the future for Southeastern for several reasons. VDI enhances student learning experiences, classroom flexibility, IT efficiency, and data security. “We’re saving time and reducing stress,” says Chet Young, VMware administrator at Southeastern. “Nobody complains about performance anymore, and we’ve already reduced the IT staff time required to support client computing by more than 30%.”

While big data management is just one key component of running an effective virtualized desktop environment, it is also being used in other ways throughout higher education. Some schools are using big data to attract, educate, retain and help understand which students will actually graduate college.  One such school, Georgia State University (GSU), hired an outside consulting firm, EAB, to analyze 2.5 million grades earned by students in courses over 10 years and create a list of factors that hurt their chances for graduation.

Together, they built an early-warning system, which GSU calls GPS, for Graduation and Progression Success. The system is updated daily and includes more than 700 red flags aimed at helping advisers keep students on track to graduation. Some of these “red flags” may include alerts to advisors when students do not receive satisfactory grades for their major, when courses are not taken within the required timeframe, or when a student signs up for an irrelevant course not related to his or her major.

Big data and analytics management continue to aid colleges and universities in myriad ways – from student recruitment and retention efforts to on-time graduation and online learning.  As the costs of college continue to rise, having data and analytics at the forefront will only help universities understand how to find students who are most likely to apply, enroll, and succeed in the four-year programs. At schools like GSU, the results have been dramatic with graduation rates up 6% since 2013. GSU has also reported that students are now graduating on average a half a semester sooner than before, saving an astounding $12 million in tuition. The benefits of big data management and analytics are limitless for institutions of higher education, and the solutions available today are the backbone of the higher graduation rates and effective online learning systems we are now seeing in colleges and universities across the nation.

Interested in learning more about how NetApp solutions can enhance big data and analytics for your institute of higher education? You can find out more here.