The Perks of BYOT

By Wylie Wong Print this article Print

As colleges and school districts face an onslaught of mobile devices, IT departments must provide ample network bandwidth while dealing with the security risks generated by those devices.

BYOT is gaining traction, with about 160 students regularly connecting their own mobile devices to the WiFi network. The district hopes to increase participation, and district leaders are discussing whether they should require all students to bring their own devices to school.

To gear up for such an eventuality, the district recently installed a new 802.11n WiFi network with 240 access points throughout the district, one in each classroom.

“We believe students learn better when they bring their own technology to school,” says Crawford, “so that’s the direction we’re headed.”

Centralization Reduces Costs

With 90,000 students in five main campuses, the Lone Star College System, based in the Houston area, has experienced huge growth during the past three years. Each campus had previously managed its own technology infrastructure, but the IT department began a centralization effort to reduce costs, says Link Alander, associate vice chancellor of technology services.

Lone Star built a new green, high-efficiency data center and consolidated 95 percent of its servers using server virtualization software. The college deploys Symantec’s application virtualization software, which helps it save money by reducing software licensing costs via one-time or short-term use of software.

For example, Alander explains, if professors need to use a particular application for a day or two, IT can send it to them through a virtualization layer. The college is also piloting desktop virtualization.

To automate many tasks IT had done manually, the college deployed Symantec’s Altiris IT Management Suite. The software allows the IT staff to remotely image PCs and remotely patch and update software on all computers.

The suite includes asset-management software, which provides campus IT leaders with real-time inventories of hardware and software. This helps with IT planning and software-license compliance.

Alander can run reports on software usage. That’s cost-effective because if some employees don’t use certain applications, he can reduce software licenses for those applications. The technology also automatically turns off PCs at night to save energy.

For security, the college system deployed Symantec Endpoint Protection—which provides antivirus and anti-spyware on desktop and notebook computers—and Symantec Endpoint Encryption across all laptops.

A consulting firm estimates that, from the time the Symantec management and security software was installed in March 2009 through the end of 2011, the college system will save about $2.7 million from reduced costs and labor productivity gains.

“If you don’t have automation tools in place, you can’t provide a high level of service,” Alander says. “Tools have given me the ability to see everything going on in the organization. We can control risk, and our teams have the ability to remediate items faster and deploy images more quickly.” 

This article was originally published on 2011-07-28
Wylie Wong is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
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