A collaboration in the cloud: Advancing K-12 technology innovation

Moving to a virtual environment and sharing infrastructure resources would establish the capacity that each of our organizations needed to provide services to district schools. This kind of radical direction change does not happen in a vacuum. We knew we would need partners and IT leaders who would provide us with more than just hardware.

We knew we needed direction and support and we were lucky to find the help and support we needed our two IT partners. They set about to engineer a solution that would not only serve our customers’ immediate need, but also lay the foundation for future growth. Ultimately, it was a combination of NetApp’s FAS3250, Cisco UCS, and NetApp’s FAS2240 that did the trick.

One of our biggest challenges was overcoming a common IT manager’s demand — the need to have gear where you can see it, touch it and tweak it. We knew this was going to be one of the hardest challenges to overcome – letting go of the physical ownership of gear. The decision to focus on services from the cloud went a long way towards eliminating many of the concerns about the location of the hardware.

IT telephony and wireless managed services were set up through a virtualized datacenter that both NWOCA and TRECA were able to utilize. This was one of the moves that helped us mitigate the “ownership” issue. Each organization paid for what was needed. Collectively, we all knew the best infrastructure solution for meeting the needs of Ohio school districts. We created a common goal and we worked together to achieve it.

Return on Investment

Our advice for organizations looking to modernize is start with a goal. If you can agree on a mission and vision for the new organization, then when you run into roadblocks you can go back to that vision and let it drive you through the issues. You might think the idea of delivering services to constituents and improving the satisfaction level of schools, students, teachers and administration officials is enough – it’s not.

It all comes down to one thing—the needs of the students. When your team creates a mission with the vision of the students at the core, you can overcome any obstacles in your path. From the outset, NWOCA and TRECA envisioned how our collaboration would deliver a better, less expensive and more complete portfolio of technology services to our students —it was that commitment that allowed us to make that vision a reality.

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