As a lead-up to this year’s EDUCAUSE conference, we’re interviewing some of the speakers who will be sharing their knowledge and experience at the conference. It’s our hope that these interviews will spark conversation and give conference attendees a better sense of this year’s speakers.
Link Alander is the Associate Vice Chancellor of the Lone Star College System. He is giving a presentation at this year’s conference entitled “The Lean and Green by Design.” Link was kind enough to answer a few questions about the most rewarding aspects of his job, the importance of green design, and more.
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1. As Associate Vice Chancellor of such a broad school network, what are the most rewarding aspects of what you do?
The most rewarding events of course is the fall opening and graduation. From a technology standpoint the most rewarding aspects are when faculty use the technology foundation to teach in innovative ways. Using technology to engage students and challenge them is impressive. The faculty know how to reach students using technology we, Office of Technology Services, have to be able to support and sustain these initiatives.
2. Why have you chosen to make green design a priority at Lone Star College?
The best answer to this is on our green IT initiative’s charter:
As the trends of the Technology Industry move toward a more energy conscience, sustainable model; the LSCS Office of Technology Services has committed to being a leader in this arena by engaging in more Eco friendly practices.
There are two major factors that lead to this shift in focus.
As an institution of Higher Education, we have the social responsibility to address this issue and be a leader in the community.
As stewards of tax payers’ dollars, we have a fiscal responsibility to manage costs and improve efficiencies.
3. What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned from your use of virtualization? Are there any particular companies or consultants you would recommend to a colleague who is attempting to follow in the footsteps of Lone Star College?
We have learned a lot from our use of virtualization and the cloud. Our key objective to start was to replace aging hardware and improve service availability. The end results support our 5-nines up-time initiative and have significantly improve our ability to meet our institution’s needs – enterprise agility. It doesn’t take months to bring new services on-line anymore.
We focused on key strategic partnerships with industry leaders. When moving to a highly virtualized environment, currently 93% to include our ERP, you must have the best in class solutions. We partnered with HP, VMware, EMC and Cisco on the hardware/software solutions. We also partnered with SHI on the conversion of the campus servers from physical to virtual.
4. What do you feel are the most significant issues/challenges institutions face in developing sustainable, cost-efficient IT management models?
Once the direction is set it is not a problem. The biggest issue is that this is an on-going “best practice” not a onetime project. To be successful green needs to be part of every IT decision.
5. Where do you see the future of lean and green IT headed?
This is a hard question because there are so many directions to go in. From a pure IT standpoint for us it is to reduce the power cost even further on the endpoint (computing) devices. The other item that has to expand is the institutions involvement – expand to reach all areas of the campus, especially students. Another direction that we have also been perusing is a regional green consortium that consists of K12, CC and universities. This has been making headway as a sharing group for successes and failures.
6. Are there any other sessions or events you’re looking forward to attending at this year’s EDUCAUSE Conference?
I always enjoy the EDUCAUSE sections and typically go to many sessions that are not directly related to what I do. The reason for this is to see other perspectives. Since I mainly support infrastructure and operations I like to attend technology in the classroom sessions. Often I get the opportunity to bring back ideas to discuss with faculty members. So far I have not had a chance to plan my schedule but I’ll let you know if something jumps out.