There is a saying in the United States that when it comes to trends, “Everything starts in California.” If true than the California State University (CSU) system, the largest four year state university system in the U.S., decision to rely on Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) as it trusted partner for transforming its IT network and statewide, may be a harbinger of other university systems following their lead.
How big a deal is this? It is huge on two fronts. First, CSU has 23 campuses spread to the four corners of California, supporting around 430,000 students and 44,000 faculty and staff members. Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) will be upgrading the CSU backbone network across 22 of those 23 campus to 10GigE to facilitate CSU taking much more advantage of the benefits of cloud computing. The deal with worth $22 million over the next eight years, and ALU beat out the likes of Cisco (News - Alert), Juniper, HP and Brocade in an intense and very closely watched competition.
This is a smart step for CSU, considering the growing use of the cloud for education, and as noted above it is certain to be a trend setter.
In it for the long term
“CSU’s IT network project is a long-term investment strategy, not just a reaction to current budget issues,” says Michel Davidoff, Director of CSU’s Cyberinfrastructure. “Alcatel-Lucent equipment provides a simple yet flexible and eco-friendly design using a small number of platforms in diverse roles to maximize best practices across our campuses. We expect to gain significant operational efficiencies with this Alcatel-Lucent infrastructure that will also open doors to the future with its flexibility. We can easily evolve the network to provide more advanced services in the future with minimal investment, such as linking kiosk technology or security. And as a result, we expect to avoid considerable costs over the next eight years.”
However, it is not just about saving money and taking advantage of the eco-friendliness of the ALU OmniSwitch product line, especially the OmniSwitch 6900. It is about flexibility and adaptability. It is high-performance and secure operation that is flexible in accommodating a world where the only constant is change.
It is about a world where increasingly real-time applications, accessible in virtualized data centers, will drive differentiated value. It is about assuring that emerging networking solutions like software defined networks (SDNs) are employed to obtain optimal performance from those data centers by making them not just applications friendly but as ALU says, applications fluent.
CSU’s upgrade is needed. It comes at a time when competition between universities, particularly at the state level, in increasing, and where doing more with less has become a mantra. In addition, the number of network aware devices used by the average college student is already six and is expected to go higher, putting more strain on the IT infrastructure at a time when universities are offering more and more bit intensive online courses, and looking to use big data to drive their own operational efficiencies.
A high-speed, secure, eco-friendly, application fluent network, that through things like enabling more and more efficient use of the cloud via transformative offerings like SDN, that can scale quickly, is more easily managed, and is future ready. That sounds like the prescription for success, and a trend that is going to continue in networking as well as culture and education, California is a place to watch and probably emulate.
Edited by Peter Bernstein