IT Consolidation Makes Life Easier for Higher Education
Doubling Down on IT Consolidation
Quality was also the driving force for Kennesaw State…
(Nov 18, 2015) — ….
Link To Articlehttp://www.edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2015/11/leaner-faster-smarter
Doubling Down on IT Consolidation
Quality was also the driving force for Kennesaw State University’s Information Technology Services (UITS) division, which has undergone not one but two consolidation initiatives in
the past three years.
The team first consolidated internally. Then, following the university’s announcement
that it would absorb the smaller Southern Polytechnic State University in late 2013,
the two institutions’ IT departments merged.
While Kennesaw State had an IT division that was physically centralized, there were still silos that caused duplication of effort and redundancies in infrastructure
and services. This challenged the teams in their efforts to work together cohesively.
One of the division’s four internal departments supported the majority of campus servers,
but other departments such as Advanced Computing Solutions shared responsibility for
servers with the same operating systems.
That meant each department had to have its own server administrators. Moreover, the
Project Management Office was embedded within the Enterprise Systems and Services
department, which made it difficult for project managers to take an unbiased role
and manage projects effectively across the division.
With strategic guidance from CIO Dr. Randy C. Hinds, the IT division realigned units
and created new ones, reshaping IT from four large departments into 10 specialized units.
“We moved technicians into roles that draw on their individual strengths and provide
them with a much clearer focus, rather than expecting them to wear multiple hats,”
says Lectra Lawhorne, associate CIO and assistant vice president of IT. “The new structure
also gave personnel more opportunities to interact with IT leadership, which led to
improved teamwork and understanding.”
The Beauty of IT Unity
The changes paid dividends when the time came for Kennesaw State’s IT team to merge
with the IT department at Southern Polytechnic, which had fewer personnel but a different
culture and organizational setup.
“We had already built a foundation with the new structure, and so we were able to
map folks in and capitalize on their strengths based on these different verticals,”
Lawhorne says. “Our project management office was huge in that effort, because they
were able to manage expectations, facilitate communications and keep everyone on schedule
The effort required, among other steps, consolidation of 604 Southern Polytechnic servers with nearly 2,000 Kennesaw State servers and standardization decisions on about 175 common platforms and applications. All stages had to be coordinated and approved by a larger consolidation committee.
The undertaking is now 99 percent complete and is viewed as a success, Lawhorne says. All projects were ­completed on schedule
and the two departments combined into a single, 200-person IT division.
Moreover, the division has already realized a cost savings of a $250,000 on software
renewals alone, even while offering more students access to applications.
“It’s been a lot of work, but it was worth it,” Lawhorne says. “We’re unified now
and capable of doing some amazing things.”
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.