Three Ways Edge Computing is Impacting Education

By Special Guest
Jason Collier, co-founder, Scale Computing
August 08, 2018

When it comes to IT, educational institutions have the same issues to deal with and needs as businesses, if not more. Classrooms face a number of challenges in providing rich learning experiences for students, one of which is technology – specifically, keeping up with technology advancements to provide the best learning tools available.

Students across all stages of education require access to modern technology to help prepare them for the digital-focused, competitive job market – replacing chalkboards with interactive screens is no longer the only solution needed to get ahead. Alongside the pressure of providing the best for students, schools are under tremendous strain to maintain tight IT budgets.

There is a shift toward presenting work assignments online via student portals where data is stored in the cloud. Schools are implementing common office applications, messaging services and virtual desktops, while hosting web services for students and parents, in addition to supporting more specialized educational applications.

The global edge computing market is expected to reach $6.72 billion by 2022, according to Markets and Markets. Despite the record growth in edge computing, many schools aren’t aware of the technology behind the scenes that makes this innovation possible. Below are three ways edge computing is impacting the classroom.

Adjusting Network Traffic
Within edge computing, micro data centers provide on-site technology that can scale up and down with the school’s requirements. For example, after school, the system capacity may have a surge of traffic due to both staff and students accessing LMS (Learning Management Systems). The most common applications used in these scenarios are PowerSchool (Oracle 12 Database), Skyward and Procare. During this time, the infrastructure needs to scale up to cope with traffic and ensure performance doesn’t drop, but then scale back down when everyone is logged off.

These challenges persist even in higher education, across a large percentage of academic disciplines.

To operate efficiently, connectivity and networking needs to be the number one priority. However, this can be a challenge for many distributed organizations, like schools – especially those spread out across several campuses. By bringing data locally on-site, latencies can be eliminated for a continuous and better user experience.

In addition, some campuses might not have IT staff on site. The benefit of edge computing is that trained IT pros can do remote management of tasks. Being able to do most, if not all, of these tasks remotely is critical not only because of the cost of travelling to these sites but also for minimizing downtime because of delayed response times due to travel.

Improving User Experience 
Technology in the classroom has become the new normal as educators look to new ways to use computers and online resources in education. The global market for education technology is expected to grow from $193 billion in 2016 to $586 billion in 2021, according to Research and Markets. Schools with multiple campuses are tapping edge computing as a viable solution to support educational institutions, due to the ease of use and its impact on user experience.

More specifically, educational institutions are operating similarly to remote location and branch office organizations, with comparable IT needs. Edge computing is localized computing, away from the primary data center where performance and reliability are essential, which can be deployed rapidly and easily.

Edge computing decentralizes computing resources and moves them closer to the source of the data. When schools utilize edge computing, they prioritize connectivity and networking across several campuses to eliminate slow speeds, which dramatically improves the experience of students and teachers.

Making Tools Available 
An increasing number of schools are using devices in the classroom, with more than 5.8 million mobile PCs sold in Q1 of 2018, according to a Future Source report. More educational institutions are giving students external access to digital libraries and online application portals throughout the day.

Again, connectivity and networking are critical to ensuring the effectiveness of these technology initiatives. What these organizations require is a simple, low cost, localized computing solution, like edge computing. Edge computing offers the agility to operate efficiently and effectively away from the main site and across multiple devices – for example, online homework portals and access across multiple campuses.

With edge computing, the solution must be resilient when it comes to hardware failures and other types of outages. It is vital to have a system that can continue operating, for example, if a drive fails or if internet connectivity is lost. Edge computing technology enhances educational operations and provides a platform with agility, versus slowing them down or stopping them.

Edge computing is a technology that is set for high growth in the future, and will dramatically improve daily operations for many industries, including education.

About the author: Jason Collier is co-founder of Scale Computing, a market leader in hyperconverged solutions. Collier is responsible for the evangelism marketing of Scale Computing. Previously, Collier was VP of technical operations at Corvigo where he oversaw sales engineering, technical support, internal IT and datacenter operations. Prior to Corvigo, Collier was VP of information technology and infrastructure at Radiate.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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