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Network upgrades may be needed as academia faces digital transition

By Donna Donnawitz
July 17, 2014

Colleges and universities are already comfortable with using fiber to Ethernet media converters and similar technologies to support their campus networks. However, the time may for strategic data center upgrades may also have arrived. The move to install large-scale wireless networks to support mobile device use has led to significant connectivity challenges in academia, but the move to digital learning could disrupt data center models and force institutions of higher education to upgrade their data center networks accordingly.

According to a recent Forbes report, history tells us that a move toward digital methodologies is unavoidable in academia.

The digital transition will happen
In the 1920s, Hollywood made a slow transition to the new technological option of having actors and actresses speak during films. At the time, the people who resisted change - executives in leading studios - found success holding fast to legacy principles. The news source explained that film studios had so much control over what content made it out to consumers that the industry could dictate the pace of technological change.

The digital news transition of the late 20th century and early 21st century, on the other hand, established a paradigm for what happens when consumers have all of the control. Forbes explained that because anybody can produce content, the major media outlets did not have the ability to control the pace of technological disruption. As such, when small startups embraced digital news and gave customers what they wanted, consumers began showing their preferences by cancelling subscriptions to daily newspapers and focusing on digital news.

Similar to the news industry, anybody can start a college or university. An organization with the right competencies can become accredited regardless of whether it uses traditional or digital classrooms. The report said that this gives consumers control and students are already beginning to dictate the transition to digital classrooms.

Digital learning and the network
The move toward digital classrooms could mean large quantities of video content being streamed from college and university data centers and being stored there as on-demand content for later consumption. It could also mean audio files, ebooks and other content types all moving from the data center to users via the Web, not libraries and classrooms. The end result is a situation in which storage, core and access networks are all strained and more fiber-optic cabling may be needed in data center environments. Institutions of higher education that want to get ahead on this trend need to be able to balance copper and fiber deployment to maximize the cost-to-performance ratio of the network, something that media converters make possible.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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