East Mississippi Community College is part of the Mississippi Community College Board. (Photo: eastms.edu)

Mississippi Colleges Use Tech to Improve Applications, Lower Costs

With school starting up, the Mississippi Community College Board (MCCB) needed to tackle a system that was slowing down the class registration process.

MCCB provides centralized IT services for its 15 community colleges and acts as an Internet service provider for those campuses. With a dated system in place, both students and administrators were getting frustrated when they couldn’t even access the application they use to register for classes.

“The first week of registration is when the system runs its hardest,” said Ray Smith, assistant executive director for Technology with MCCB. “We historically would always have points where the system was running so slow that students and administrators couldn’t access it. So, one of our prime objectives was to improve the speed of this application.”

At the start of the school year, MCCB announced that it had adopted a FlashStack solution, a joint offering from Cisco Systems and Pure Storage, to host its most critical enrollment applications.With the new FlaskStack solution, the IT team now has access to the latest in computing and networking, combined into a single, integrated architecture. The pre-tested configurations, based on Cisco Validated Designs and a joint reference architecture, can help lower overall IT costs, while increasing speed to deployment.

“Our mission is to promote the future of Mississippi by providing a skilled workforce, and to do that we need a solid foundation of technology,” said Andrea Mayfield, executive director of MCCB. “With Cisco and Pure Storage as valuable partners and FlashStack at the core of operations, we have significantly enhanced our data center infrastructure, reduced cost, and drastically improved the enrollment experience for more than 70,000 students.”

The new IT infrastructure has also created new opportunities for students enrolled in an MCCB school. The MCCB has implemented the Mississippi Virtual Community College, so students are now able to enroll in a class from any of the 15 colleges. Before the new system was in place, students could only enroll in classes held at colleges designated to the district where they lived. With more processing power and storage available, Smith’s team developed a new application to enable cross-district enrollment.

“Pure Storage is focused on delivering simplicity, efficiency and performance to MCCB, so they can exceed their students’ expectations and ensure that their education is not disrupted by slow applications or downtime,” said Gary Newgaard, VP of Public Sector at Pure Storage. “Pure is ideal for organizations that want the flexibility to scale over time while also reducing the cost of power, cooling, and space.”

After consulting with Venture Technologies, MCCB’s system-integration partner, MCCB decided to purchase two FlashStack configurations–one for its main data center and another for its disaster recovery site.

“With FlashStack, we saw the opportunity to reduce the footprint in our data centers, and to adopt a converged infrastructure that greatly reduces cost and complexity,” said Smith. “We found that for less than the cost of the hardware maintenance on our legacy system, we could buy a FlashStack implementation and three years of maintenance. It was an easy decision for us.”

Kate DeNardi
About Kate DeNardi
Kate DeNardi is 21st Century State & Local's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs
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