St. Petersburg College Achieves Security and Resiliency with Cloud Solutions

Like many industries today, higher education has largely embraced BYOD programs for the myriad benefits they provide. However, the implementation of BYOD also means a network that contains many untrusted and potentially infected devices at any time, each generating traffic that requires granular visibility and monitoring, and the timely identification of potential threats.

by Fortinet / June 10, 2020
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Few organizations demand as much from their infrastructure as those within higher education. From managing a large user base of staff and students across both wired and wireless networks and navigating the security requirements associated with BYOD (bring your own device) programs, to ensuring network performance to support the myriad online resources so essential to modern education curriculums, educational institutions need solutions that will support a more agile, scalable environment — without adding complexity or stretching resources.

Combatting Operational Costs

It goes without saying that the infrastructure strains on modern educational institutions have only amplified in recent years, with reliance on e-learning and collaboration tools showing no signs of slowing down. While teaching outcomes have certainly benefitted — after all, e-learning has proven to increase knowledge retention by 25 percent to 60 percenti — provisioning and maintaining in-house data centers, rightsizing portfolios of on-prem software, and managing on-site technical resources to support it all places a drain on precious resources — time and staff chief among them. What’s more, as regulations drive steep compliance requirements, and data storage needs expand, network staff must respond quicker than ever to incidents, outages and other forms of disruption.

An Evolving Threat Landscape

Higher education has proven to be a top target for hackers due to the significant amount of PII (personally identifiable information) stored within its systems. In fact, the prevalence of cyberespionage attacks in educational institutions is a staggering 3.5 times greater now than in 2019.ii

Like many industries today, higher education 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 spend on new equipment. However, the implementation of BYOD also means a network that contains many untrusted and potentially infected devices at any 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 a Secure Cloud Infrastructure

In response to these challenges, many higher education IT teams are turning to cloud solutions to support a more agile, secure, and scalable infrastructure than historically available with on-prem solutions. One such example is St. Petersburg College. Based in hurricane-prone Florida, business continuity was a major concern for the multisite college. Reliance on on-premises infrastructure meant that one bad storm could take down sensitive systems containing student records and administrative data. Additionally, 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 spinning up a testbed 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, while 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 today: “Multisite College Achieves Security and Resiliency in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.”


i Shift Disruptive Learning, “18 Mind-Blowing eLearning Statistics”
ii OneLogin, “3 Reasons Higher Education is a Cyberattack Favorite”

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