Utah State University

Red Sky Solutions’ comprehensive solutions and expertise help Utah State University exceed its IT needs. Utah State University (USU) was founded on March 8, 1888 in Logan, Utah, on 400 acres in the heart of Cache Valley. As Utah’s land-grant university, they not only focus on education but also research and outreach programs, which include extension programs and 4-H. USU’s mission is to be one of the nation’s premier student-centered land-grant and space-grant universities by fostering the principle that academics come first, by cultivating diversity of thought and culture, and by serving the public through learning, discovery and engagement.

BACKGROUND

Utah State University (USU) was founded on March 8, 1888 in Logan, Utah, on 400 acres in the heart of Cache Valley. As Utah’s land-grant university, they not only focus on education but also research and outreach programs, which include extension programs and 4-H. USU’s mission is to be one of the nation’s premier student-centered land-grant and space-grant universities by fostering the principle that academics come first, by cultivating diversity of thought and culture, and by serving the public through learning, discovery and engagement.

Today USU has three regional campuses and extension offices in 28 of 29 Utah counties and boasts a faculty of 823 members with 1,561 full and part-time support staff and offers its approximately 30,000 students a choice between eight colleges, 168 undergraduate degrees, 94 undergraduate minors and 143 graduate degrees. It’s student body is represented by students from 20 Utah counties, all 50 states and 88 countries.

Eric Hawley is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at USU. He is “an Aggie true blue,” completing each of his three degrees from USU and he has spent his entire career in IT. Hawley is an expert in business alignment, IT process and organization, IT strategic planning, and operational efficiency, with the majority of his career spent in higher education.

 

CHALLENGE

Hawley describes his role as CIO as, “To make IT work and to make it friendly for all parties involved, including students, faculty and staff.” This became a challenge after the holidays when students arrived with many new devices. Between fall and spring semesters in 2012, USU experienced a 40-percent increase in devices on-campus. Because of the increase in wireless devices, there was increased demand on the Wi-Fi, but it was underperforming. As the CIO, Hawley was spending money on hardware to solve the problem, but wasn’t getting the results he needed.

“IT is all about communicating,” Hawley said. “On one side, we communicate data in order to connect people, like professors to students irrespective of time and place. On the other side are the things that make a difference – the ways students learn, teachers teach, and researchers conduct their research and study.” The Wi-Fi problems were hindering the communication at USU and Hawley knew a change needed to happen quickly.

When submitting a request for proposals (RFP) in early 2012, Hawley found that many providers were offering little support on designing a scalable infrastructure. “What I really needed was a partner that I could trust and was great at identifying the products and solutions that will help alleviate and take my worries away,” explained Hawley.

Hawley began asking around and talking to IT professionals and trusted sources to find a provider that could take the burden off his shoulders. His experience taught him he needed a partner that is an expert in all of the major IT disciplines and that would care as much about USU’s success as he does.

“In my search for a solution, I was discussing the issue with a member of my internal staff,” shared Hawley. “One of the technical staff members told me about Red Sky Solutions and how they had helped him at a previous company. I was intrigued and began checking them out to learn more.”

 

SOLUTION

Red Sky Solutions worked to create a custom solution for USU’s Wi-Fi problems. Red Sky Solutions provided complete, customized IT solutions to the university. Because Red Sky Solutions is a customer-centric, engineering-led network and systems integrator, they were able to design and architect a solution that met and exceeded Hawley’s expectations. Red Sky Solutions also provided the necessary radio frequency (RF) engineering needed to both install and run USU’s wireless network.

After spending money to solve a problem by purchasing hardware, Hawley welcomed Red Sky Solutions’ design and quickly approved their proposal. Within a short amount of time, Red Sky Solutions began implementing the design.

 

RESULTS

Since engaging Red Sky Solutions to help him manage the University’s IT, the results have both met and exceeded Hawley’s expectations. “With Red Sky Solutions’ design, we have doubled the access point connectivity as well as the amount of traffic that is used at USU on wireless devices,” Hawley said. The design also provides USU more coverage than it has ever had and was completed for the same budget as the previous wireless system.

“You aren’t just buying equipment, you have to know where to put it, how to design it and how to architect it,” Hawley added. “Red Sky Solutions provided the RF engineering that we needed to have a successful, scalable network for our students. The engineering and implementation expertise Red Sky Solutions offer made this solution work.”

Since bringing Red Sky Solutions in to help, Red Sky Solutions has gained Hawley’s trust and confidence. So much so that he has opened up other projects and is leaning on the company more each day.

 

CONCLUSION

“Technology changes so quickly that it makes it difficult to keep up on the changes and newest trends,” concluded Hawley. “While technology changes, Red Sky Solutions doesn’t. They are able to stay up on all the latest trends and changes and pass that along to us for our benefit.”

Perhaps the best testament to the satisfaction and happiness of a client is its willingness to refer the company to others. In this case, Hawley said he happily recommends Red Sky Solutions.

“Two key things stand out to me when I think of Red Sky Solutions. The first is Red Sky Solutions’ comprehensive confidence,” said Hawley. “In my opinion, confidence comes from knowing what you’re doing and being an expert in your field.”

“The second is their process efficiency,” Hawley continued. “The Red Sky Solutions team is IT experts. They provide the whole package, comprehensive confidence at an amazing price. They are able to do what they say they’ll do when they’ll do it, on budget while exceeding expectations. I highly recommend them to anybody who needs expert IT help.”