How Community College IT Thrives Despite Constrained Resources: Lessons from Alabama Southern and College of the Canyons

February 13, 2017 Bob Nilsson

Part 1: The Extreme Community College Series 

Adaptive, mobile classroom learning solutions are vital to the success of community colleges across the country. At Extreme Networks, we understand this and foster engaging student learning environments through reliable wireless and wired networks that are easy to manage by resource-constrained IT staffs.

Community Colleges offer enticing benefits to students, including affordability and convenience. Many feature small class sizes, so students can receive more personalized attention from their professors. Community colleges often offer courses on leading-edge topics, both on-campus and online to accommodate students faced with inflexible work schedules.

The challenge facing Community Colleges is to deliver flawless services in spite of limited budgets and small IT departments. Often times, college IT departments are unable to focus on expanding their education programs because of the overwhelming demands of troubleshooting and maintaining their network.

Enabling community colleges to delight their students with a pervasive and responsive network is a strength of Extreme Networks. We recently announced our partnership with four community colleges, including Alabama Southern Community College and College of the Canyons. These two schools faced steep obstacles in managing their networks with a small number of IT professionals. Here’s how they succeeded.

Alabama Southern Community College

Alabama Southern Community College decided to replace all of their Cisco switches with Extreme Networks solutions including our Summit X450 series, to provide efficient connectivity to their growing student population of 9,000 across four interconnected locations. The influx in students inevitably brought more devices on campus to be managed by BYOD software.

When it comes to accommodating high-density campus environments, Extreme is well-experienced as demonstrated by our growing number of NFL and NCAA Division 1 college stadiums. We equipped Alabama Southern with a reliable networking solution to deploy a successful BYOD program, without stressing their limited resources, budget, and staff. As a result, the college was able to cut costs with Extreme’s centralized network management solution that reduced the amount of time required to manage the network. Additionally, employee time constraints had posed an ongoing dilemma since Alabama Southern has only three technicians working across their IT department. The ability to meet student digital learning needs while reducing the college’s IT staff workload was a major milestone for Alabama Southern.

College of the Canyons

The partnership between College of the Canyons of Valencia, California, and Extreme Networks dates back to 1997, when the school outfitted their two main campuses with switching solutions to serve all 2,000 employees and 20,000 students. With a small two-person IT department, College of the Canyons needed a solution that wouldn’t require constant upkeep. They wanted to free up time so college administrators could focus on growing their educational programs, instead of worrying about an unreliable network configuration. Extreme’s solution has been so reliable, that the school was able to move beyond troubleshooting altogether. College of the Canyons staff now uses their time to develop innovative ways to improve student learning experiences by utilizing the latest instructional technologies.

Stay tuned for part two of our community college series to see how we’ve supported more higher education institutions in their quest for reliable networking solutions!
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