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Webinar Recap: Four Innovative Cloud Communications Strategies—From Notification to Collaboration

Feb 22, 2016, by Ben Fineman
Tags: Internet2 NET+

Many higher education technology spaces are benefiting from the shift to cloud deployment models, and communication is no exception. Universities in the Internet2 community have done a lot of great work over the past few years building video, voice, and collaboration services that are scalable and meet university requirements for functionality, security, compliance, accessibility, and legal terms. This week, we were lucky to have four Internet2 community leaders join us for a webinar who have deployed diverse cloud communication services on their campuses. In an action-packed sixty minutes, they each shared their experiences, challenges, successes, and lessons learned from deploying services including mass notification, video collaboration, hosted voice, and IPTV.

The recorded webinar and slides are now available, and feel free to schedule a meeting with me as well if you’d like to learn more.

1. Mass Notification in the Cloud: Kathy Gates, CIO of the University of Mississippi presented on her institution’s sponsorship of the 2SMS mass notification service into the NET+ program. Kathy described the diverse ways her campus has adopted this service—not only for emergency situations like tornado warnings, but also more day-to-day activities like password resets, test reminders, and registration announcements. The NET+ 2SMS service is beneficial not only for the standard terms and conditions and vetted attributes, but also for its flat rate pricing so even the smallest institutions can take advantage of pricing leveraged for the broader higher education community. Thanks to the work of Kathy’s team, the NET+ 2SMS service is now available for other universities to use.

2. High-quality Cloud Video Collaboration with fully hosted or hybrid cloud models: Charles Kazilek, Chief Technology Innovation Officer for Arizona State University presented on NET+ Vidyo by IDSolutions. Arizona State was a pioneer in the use of this technology to bring students directly into the middle of a rainforest with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and Chuck was instrumental in the community service validation. The NET+ Vidyo solution was ideal for this application due to its high quality video (great for examining rare insects up close) and excellent performance in challenging network environments (ever tried to get Wi-Fi in the rainforest?). While this project has since completed, Arizona State continues to expand its use of NET+ Vidyo to enhance both distance learning and traditional programs. You can also check out a short video and case study on this innovative distance-learning project.

3. Cloud-Based Telephone/hosted voice services: Hitae Shin, Director of IT Infrastructure with the Columbia University Department of Computer Science, presented on the NET+ SIP Service from Mitel and Level 3. His department at Columbia has been successfully using the service since last year, and while they have had a good experience, they have also helped to improve the service for the community as a whole. As an example, one of the grad students in Hitae’s department is Ang Cui, who generated some buzz a couple years ago by finding eavesdropping vulnerabilities in Cisco phones. Ang could not resist doing some testing when a new Mitel phone showed up on his desk, and sure enough he discovered several vulnerabilities. Mitel demonstrated their commitment to community partnership, and had the vulnerabilities closed a week after Columbia reported them. Columbia continues to use the phones today as a robust replacement for their legacy system, as well as adding the soft client functionality to enable VoIP for their users anywhere in the world on laptops and mobile devices.

4. IPTV Hybrid Cloud: Christopher Norton, Associate Director of IT with Texas A&M University presented their implementation of the NET+ Philo IPTV service, with which students can watch live and time-shifted programs—not only on their TVs, but also on their computers and mobile devices. And if the statistics are any indicator, the students are loving it: TAMU is up to about 100,000 hours of viewing time per month in their initial deployment to 1200 students. The hybrid cloud deployment model means that they are able to accomplish this without putting any additional strain on their Internet2 link (although we would be glad if they did!). TAMU was essential in helping to build this service, and now making it available to the broader community.

It was an hour well spent with four great knowledge leaders in our community. Through this kind of practical learning from our peers—both successes and challenges—we can all more effectively leverage the benefits of the cloud deployment model, and the combined community efforts of the NET+ program.