The cloud comes to campus

Shared computer resources offer benefits to student experience.


Eli Keimig serves as senior systems administrator, IS Operations, at Liberty University. Having graduated high school by the time he was 16 and having completed a master’s degree in business management and leadership at 22, Keimig thrives in high learning/high growth environments. He is an equally accomplished analyst, engineer, and architect who views security and future growth as a design requirement rather than a project afterthought. Keimig is sought out for his systems engineering and application integration capabilities as well as his remarkable breadth and depth of technical knowledge. College Services spoke with him regarding cloud technologies on campus and what’s next for campus technology.

Q: Explain cloud technologies and how they are being used on campuses.
A: Simply put, cloud technologies can refer to any information technology or information security solution that relies upon shared computing resources. Oftentimes these resources do not exist on local (on premise) servers or devices. Campuses are seeking to utilize cloud resources because of their flexible and scalable nature. It allows a college or university to quickly grow their IT capabilities without necessarily needing to expand the staffing or physical re-source requirements. Cloud technologies can range from software-as-a-service (SaaS), to platform-as-a-server (PaaS), to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Typically, in organizations struggling to staff their IT according to their needs, SaaS provides the greatest benefit because it allows the organization to rely on a third party for hardware, software, and staffing needs usually for a single monthly or yearly price. Q: What challenges does this bring to student confidentiality? A: With any type of outsourced or cloud technology solution implemented by an educational organization, there will always be an increased risk surround-ing student confidentiality. However, like with most risks, there are mitigation steps that can be implemented alongside cloud solutions to increase security and protect student confidentiality. Lately, the greatest challenges presented are around the protection of FERPA data and TITLE IV student information, with TITLE IV being the more complex mandate, as few cloud providers are currently prepared to meet the new requirements of protecting that data.

Q: How can cloud technologies work hand in hand with PCI compliance?
A: Cloud technologies, specifically SaaS solutions, can ultimately help educational organizations significantly in the area of PCI compliance. With most SaaS solutions, a significant amount of the liability and risk associated with PCI is shifted to the SaaS provider or even beyond. While this does not completely remove an organization from PCI liability if they still accept credit cards on campus, it does allow them the ability to drastically reduce the scope of their PCI network, if proper network segmentation and controls are implemented and in place.

Q: What other security issues need to be considered?
A: Network segmentation is a huge issue. Proper network protection and separation is just as important in the cloud, and when interacting with the cloud, as it is on premise. It is crucial to ensure that only authorized people, devices, and services have access to your organization’s services in the cloud and on premise. Likewise, as more services are shifted to the cloud, the risk of compromised user accounts continues to increase. In order to mitigate this risk, more organizations should consider the implementation of multi-factor authentication for as many services as possible.

Q: What benefits does cloud technology bring to campuses?
A: Cloud technologies provide numerous benefits that can greatly enhance student experiences with your organization, while driving down operational costs. Many cloud-based solutions allow organizations to save money by reducing heating and cooling, physical space, electrical, and staffing requirements. Meanwhile, students and staff often experience a better overall experience, especially in the case of SaaS solutions because the vendor providing that solution is able to put much more focus on enhancing and maintaining the application than would typically be possible for a campus. A perfect example of this is Liberty University’s recent migration to Sequoia Retail Systems cloud-hosted point of sale solution. The shift has allowed the university to focus more on service expansion while relying on Sequoia to provide the best possible solution day-to-day to fulfill those needs.

Q: What is coming next that will revolutionize campus technology?
A: Innovative, integrated learning has the capacity to greatly revolutionize campuses across the nation and even the world. Technology has reached a point where it is now possible to bridge the gap between the classroom experience and the student at home, work, or on the go. New telepresence technologies allow for students to now, not only view a class, but also to fully engage and participate in a class, whether that is from a computer, cellphone, tablet, at home, or wherever they may be. Further, new virtual reality technologies such as Microsoft Hololens and Oculus VR – Rift will begin reshaping the way students are able to learn and secure hands-on experience that was not previously possible. Again, this is not technology of the distant future—this is here now.


Eli Keimig
Eli Keimig serves as senior systems administrator, IS Operations, at Liberty University. Having graduated high school by the time he was 16 and having completed a master’s degree in business management and leadership at 22, Keimig thrives in high learning/high growth environments. He is an equally accomplished analyst, engineer, and architect who views security and future growth as a design requirement rather than a project afterthought. Keimig is sought out for his systems engineering and application integration capabilities as well as his remarkable breadth and depth of technical knowledge. College Services spoke with him regarding cloud technologies on campus and what’s next for campus technology.

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