Paul Czarapata, VP and CIO of the multi-campus Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS), says adaptability is the best approach when it comes to meeting the needs of students, faculty, visitors, and internal IT staff.
Czarapata oversees all IT systems for the state-run higher education system that includes 16 different colleges and over 500 buildings.
KCTCS began partnering with CBTS in 2003. Today, CBTS operates the KCTCS Unified Communications solution, as well as a wireless Network as a Service (NaaS) solution with Cisco Aironet access points that provides WiFi at all campuses, and access to a virtual data center containing 26 servers.
The CIO also manages an internal IT staff of 35 people, and works closely with IT employees at the individual colleges.
Employees provide extra expertise across a range of areas, including security, managing SaaS applications such as Office 365 and Salesforce, and keeping the KCTCS ERP system from PeopleSoft up-to-date.
IT staffers at individual sites, meanwhile, help CBTS manage the UCaaS and NaaS solutions.
“CBTS is so experienced and has so many clients that they’ve seen it all. They know just what to do with just about every conceivable issue,” Czarapata says.
When it comes to recruiting and retaining high-quality IT staff, “flexibility is the key,” Czarapata says.
Consequently, Czarapata is flexible when it comes to staff scheduling. Attendance at some activities, such as IT staff meetings, is mandatory. “But beyond that, it’s OK if someone wants to work from 10-6 instead of 9-5, or to telecommute from home a couple of days a week. Everyone faces their own life issues.”
As another enticement, all KCTCS employees can take six college courses per year for free. Benefits also include three or four weeks of vacation, two weeks of institutional closing, and a generous retirement program.
Czarapata worked with CBTS to customize the UCaaS and NaaS solutions to meet the IT needs of campus end users.
Typical features of the CBTS-managed UCaaS solution include Voice over IP, videoconferencing, instant messaging, email, contact center, and enhanced 911.
In addition to these features, CBTS helped KCTCS integrate a phone-enabled alert system that is capable of sending instant alerts to the 7,500 Cisco IP phones used by staff about any type of emergency.
The biggest IT challenge for KCTCS is meeting the constantly increasing needs of students, faculty, and guests for WiFi bandwidth, the CIO said.
The KCTCS system does not include dorms, but students do much of their coursework on campus, and course materials include increasingly bandwidth-intensive videos and other courseware solutions.
Czarapata worked with CBTS to deploy wireless access points that provide students with WiFi across campus, including parking lots in some cases.
The WiFi solution also meets the demand from guests who include everyone from K-12 teachers and local residents using college libraries, to high school students touring campus.
Soon, members of the state police will take continuing education classes at KCTCS instead of going to the training headquarters in Richmond, KY via streaming video which also requires WiFi access.
KCTCS is prepared. Czarapata and his IT team worked with CBTS to ensure the WiFi solution can leverage the state Wide Area Network backbone and the local backup provider.
As Czarapata says, it’s all about flexibility.
To read more about the CBTS-KCTCS partnership, read this case study.