Imagine a shared wireless environment, where a Carleton student can take a class at St Olaf and her laptop connects to their wireless network seamlessly. Imagine a member of the St Olaf faculty teaching a course at Carleton, using his own secure username and password to log into Carleton’s Moodle server with his own identity rather than using a separate set of credentials. Imagine two datacenters, one at each campus, capable of hosting the entirety of both institution’s core services in the event that a disaster (flood, fire, electrical failure, etc) rendered one location inoperable. Imagine a shared knowledge base of information maintained by staff on both campuses.
The possibilities - and potential benefits - are vast. So are the challenges.
Datacenter and network infrastructure are big-ticket items; hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent annually to build and maintain the equipment and data networks required to support the vast portfolio of applications and services at each college. Once an investment has been made it is difficult and often expensive to replace it with something else. Nonetheless, we have begun to look for ways to bring our schools’ disparate networks, servers, storage, and core technologies closer together, starting with researching options for standardizing our wireless infrastructures.