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Columbia University takes communications to the cloud with RingCentral deal

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Harvard was able to demonstrate the benefits of its online learning courses.

In a world where agility, flexibility and digital everything is the name of the game, Columbia University is linking up its faculty and student community with a state-of-the-art cloud-based communications system.

The prestigious Ivy League school this week inked a deal for a cloud communications platform with RingCentral Inc, a leading provider of global enterprise cloud communications, collaboration and contact center solutions.

The platform, which replaces the school’s legacy on-premise communications system, will provide greater mobility and enhance student-to-student and student-to-faculty collaboration. It will support a 44,000-strong network of students and staff, according to a release by RingCentral.

In the deal, the university will deploy 14,000 seats of RingCentral Office to faculty, each equipped with voice, video, team messaging, online meetings, SMS, as well as fax capabilities. Columbia students, meanwhile, will be given team messaging capabilities on the platform.

The upgrade will encourage collaboration among students and faculty and allows on-the-go, real-time communication, perfect for group projects and off-site collaboration efforts.

For example, the RingCentral mobile application enables users to navigate between multiple communication modes such as video, team messaging, online meetings, SMS and fax.

“The need to support an increasingly mobile faculty and student base while keeping pace with younger generational preferences for collaboration is fueling the demand for cloud communications solutions,” said Ryan Azus, RingCentral EVP of global sales and services.

The Columbia-RingCentral deal comes at a time when higher education institutes around the world face heightened pressure from a tech-driven consumer generation to upgrade outdated IT systems.

The demand is borne of rising fears over global unemployment rates and an increasingly volatile job market; more and more, families are getting pickier about where they spend valuable higher education dollars. Prestige, rankings and academic research stripes no longer cut it; parents now judge a degree based on its economic return.

In a connected world, this means offering students a transformative learning experience that leverages technology to improve productivity and graduate outcomes.

According to Carol L. Smith, CIO, DePauw University CIO Carol L. Smith, “to better prepare students for post-graduation employment and careers, many institutions are investing in new programs around co-curricular experiences that amplify their students’ traditional coursework and research activities.”

“Many campus CIOs hope to transition to cloud-hosted solutions from on-premise environments to transform in areas of ERP systems, disaster recovery, and information security and to garner greater efficiencies and innovative system stabilities.

“Upgrading to next-generation administrative platforms promises to give institutions new capabilities and more effective ways to do business,” she said in a commentary on CIO Review.