The pandemic uprooted the traditional education system and enforced an online learning system—leaving students and teachers with no choice but a steep learning curve.
While this change was groundbreaking for education seekers and givers across the globe, the IT teams bore the heat equally.
High reliance on learning management systems (LMS) meant the IT team had the onus of ensuring everything ran smoothly, and nothing broke.
Thus this scenario introduced by the COVID-19 mandates a high-performing security infrastructure that supports online learning in the long run.
So in this blog, we’re going to learn what a load balancer is, its importance in the education sector, and how you should select one for university.
Effect of the pandemic on the education sector
The gates of schools and universities had to be shut, and the reliance on cloud-based applications like Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams grew overnight.
It’s no longer a surprise that students and teachers were glued to their screens to continue teaching and learning instead of being face to face.
This scenario puts a lot of pressure on the IT teams to ensure academic activities continue virtually, making uptime one of the most necessary elements. Uptime means when the applications are running while downtime—as the name indicates—means when applications are not working due to server or other issues.
For example, Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the United States, deployed the load balancer to ensure the high availability and performance of student information systems and other critical applications. The college serves 250,000 students per year and requires a load balancer for the long and short term. That means opting for a load balancer with cloud load balancing capabilities, and high availability and reliability was the perfect choice for them.
Consequently, academic success is now dependent on factors like:
- Submitting assignments on time
- Attending online classes without hiccups
- Getting in touch with faculties, and more
Therefore, uptime—one of the most significant benefits of having a load balancer—became the topmost priority for IT teams. So let’s learn about load balancers and how it helps in the education sector.
Why uptime is critical for schools and universities
LMS gives access to students to get in touch with their tutors, access learning assets, submit assignments, and more such essential tasks.
Thus downtime or bottleneck in the servers of these applications can cause distraction in students’ studies hampering their overall academic performance.
Load balancers are devices placed in front of your business-critical applications. These devices can be hardware or software-defined and help resolve traffic congestion issues, distributing traffic to backend servers.
This enables you to run your applications without any downtime.
Here are a few other benefits of the load balancer for schools and universities:
1. Keeps Downtime at Bay
University websites are no longer web pages displaying information and updates. Instead, it plays a critical role in enabling virtual education successfully. This necessitates higher availability and reliability of these applications.
Moreover, it’s usual for schools and universities to experience a flood of emails, messages, and many video conferences during peak times. Therefore, to ensure the business-critical applications keep running, load balancers are essential. They distribute the load to various servers in the backend, ensuring continuity. This provides a smooth user experience and avoids unnecessary hiccups.
2. Enhance the Performance of Business-Critical Applications
As discussed, the reliability of the business-critical applications is high. That’s why uptime is integral to ensure everyone, including researchers, new and existing students, and faculties can use the application with ease. To make this happen, load balancers intelligently distribute the load to several servers ensuring the content is delivered to each client promptly.
3. Uninterrupted Email Communication
Educational institutes, including small schools and K-12 institutes, usually have a database of anywhere from 100s to thousands (and even more) number of students. Therefore, there usually is an influx of emails and messages during peak times where reliable performance and uptime play a critical role.
4. Secures the University
Cybercrimes are ubiquitous, and one of the biggest concerns for IT teams in every sector and education sector is no different. Application delivery controllers also double down as security gear to shield your application from threats and attacks. Attacks like DDoS are a common way by which hackers flood the network server and cause downtime. These are major distractions for students and can hamper their learning experience.
Now that we’ve seen some of the benefits of load balancers, let’s understand some things you must consider when buying one.
How Should You Choose a Load Balancer?
We’ve understood what a load balancer is. However, it could be cumbersome to figure out the best one for your university or school. So these are some of the key parameters you should keep in mind when looking for a load balancer.
1. Anticipate the Load
It’s easy to over or underestimates your traffic goals when looking for a load balancer for your educational institute. So take into consideration not only your current traffic goals but also the long-term ones.
For example, let’s say the students are learning from home. But in the future, there could be a scenario where 100% of classes are run in-person, and students need to access educational assets online. Or, there could be a hybrid learning environment, letting students pick the right choice for themselves. Finally, also anticipate the load during peak seasons, holidays, and more such times.
2. Identify Your Goals
While resolving traffic congestion might be your first reason to opt for a server load balancer, you may want to think for the long run. This is because load balancers double down as security hardware or software as well.
So understanding your goals will give you a clear picture of what you want to look for in a load balancer. For example, Array’s APV x800 application delivery controller provides ironclad security for layers 4 and 7 and protects your applications against threats like DDoS. Therefore, you should think about the long run and what capabilities you’re looking for in a load balancer.
3. Ensure high availability
As discussed in this blog, high availability is one of the topmost requirements for a load balancer for the education sector. High availability ensures not only the flow of traffic and severe utilization but also business continuity. Thus IT teams should keep HA as their topmost priority when looking for a load balancer.
4. Keep Security at the Top of the List
Cybercrimes know no end. That’s why you should always be prepared for the unforeseen. For example, breaches could mean hacking students’ or staff’s personal information for identity theft in the education sector. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, when looking for a solution to resolve server bottleneck issues, don’t forget to consider the security.
So we’ve seen in this blog how load balancers ensure high uptime in business-critical applications for the education sector. This is integral as the academic success of students relies heavily on using online learning tools without any hiccups.
To know more about load balancers for your university or school, get in touch with our sales team!