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Achieving Cloud Security and Resiliency in the Education Sector

Jenna Wright
GTM Product Manager

Few organizations demand as much from their infrastructure as those within higher education. They must manage large user bases of staff and students across both wired and wireless networks, navigate security requirements associated with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs, and ensure network performance to support the myriad online resources essential to modern education curriculums. These educational institutions need solutions that support a more agile, scalable environment without adding complexity or stretching resources.

Combating Operational Costs

The infrastructure strains on modern educational institutions have only amplified in recent years, and the reliance on e-learning and collaboration tools shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, e-learning has been proven to increase knowledge retention by 25% to 60%. But although teaching outcomes have benefited, provisioning and maintaining in-house data centers, rightsizing portfolios of on-premises software, and managing onsite IT to support it all drains precious resources, especially time and staff. What’s more, as regulations drive steep compliance requirements and data storage needs expand, network staff must respond more quickly than ever to incidents, outages, and other forms of disruption.

An Evolving Threat Landscape

The higher education sector has proven to be a top target for hackers because of the significant amount of personally identifiable information (PII) stored within its systems. In fact, the prevalence of cyber-espionage attacks in educational institutions is a staggering 3.5 times greater now than in 2019.

Like many industries, the education sector has largely embraced BYOD programs for the myriad benefits they provide, including increased productivity and general satisfaction among staff, and significant cost savings through decreased spending on new equipment. However, the implementation of BYOD also means that networks contain many untrusted and potentially infected devices at any given time, each generating traffic that requires granular visibility and monitoring, and the timely identification of potential threats.

Rising to the Top of the Class with Fortinet and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

In response to these challenges, many IT teams in higher education are turning to cloud solutions to support a more agile, secure, and scalable infrastructure than historically available with on-premises solutions. One example is St. Petersburg College. Based in hurricane-prone Florida, business continuity is a major concern for the multiple-site college. Reliance on on-premises infrastructure means that one bad storm could disrupt sensitive systems that contain student records and administrative data. Also, the college operates a highly customized environment, meaning that every time an update or change is applied, it must be comprehensively tested. Previously, this meant creating a test bed on-premises, which could take weeks.

As a result, when given the opportunity, Chief Technology Officer David Creamer decided to move St. Petersburg College’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, with best-in-class security provided by a suite of Fortinet VM firewall, load balancing, and visibility solutions.

“Oracle Cloud [Infrastructure] made it easy to port our production environment to the cloud, and its built-in automation is saving my team valuable time,” reflected Creamer.

Fortinet’s FortiGate VM Next-Gen Firewall, deployable directly from Oracle Cloud Marketplace, delivers powerful security features across the college’s networks, and FortiADC VM offers advanced application delivery and server load balancing. For the St. Petersburg College team, the results speak for themselves.

“The FortiADC controller decreased our network latency and provides us with full visibility into the traffic flowing through our load balancer. With full log access, we can quickly get to the bottom of any issues we experience.”

Ready to learn more? Read the full case study article for St. Petersburg College. And, explore Fortinet security solutions on Oracle Cloud Marketplace:

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