Iowa State University is moving its phone system to the cloud -- and plans to save $600,000 a year by doing so. But going to the cloud for every service isn't the university's goal. The ultimate goal, according to Jim Davis, CIO and vice provost for information technology, is finding the best service at the best price point.

In higher education, technology leaders have to think about cost, security, performance and service when making IT decisions. Sometimes that means moving to the cloud; other times, it means hosting services locally.

With its previous phone system on life support, Iowa State determined that replacing the system with a cloud service brokered through the nonprofit Internet2 made the most sense. Through Internet2 NET+ Services, universities are aggregating demand for these types of services across campuses, states and countries so they can get good service at a good price.

"If we didn't work together in Internet2, all of us would be doing this on a one-off basis and probably duplicating a lot of our work," Davis said, "so it's a real time savings for us to work together through Internet2."

In Iowa State's case, the university recently adopted Box for its cloud storage, and for its phone service, it chose Aastra and Level III Communications. The move to the new phone system by July 1 will allow the university to save a projected $600,000 per year in maintenance, trunking and phone handset costs, said Angela Bradley, director of systems and operations and networks.

By replacing 8,000 old phones with new hardware and a cloud-based system, the university will pay less for more service -- service that's better than they have now.

In five years, Iowa State would like to be able to say that the services it's providing make a difference in the heart of the university's efforts.

"We build IT to support the core business processes of the university, and that's discovery and innovation and student learning and engagement," Davis said. "And we need to make sure that the services that we're putting out there are sort of force multipliers for all of those different things, and we want to propel the university forward."

Tanya Roscorla  |  Managing Editor, CDE

Tanya Roscorla covers education technology in the classroom, behind the scenes and on the legislative agenda. Likes: Experimenting in the kitchen, cooking up cool crafts, reading good books.