South Carolina State University: Consultant Says Need to Work on Phones and Internet

South Carolina State University: Consultant Says Need to Work on Phones and Internet

A consultant told South Carolina State University that much needed to be done to fix its phone systems and improve internet infrastructure.

“The phones have not been fully operational since July 4th and this is affecting over 600 people and their ability to accurately retrieve calls and retrieve voicemails etc.,” said Kevin Summers, owner of Summers Estates LLC. , based in Branchville.

“The root cause is that…companies stop supporting software because they don’t have the parts, or they’ve moved to another version,” Summers said.

Summers discussed the issue with SC State administrators at the Sept. 15 board meeting.

He’s the consultant hired to solve the problems as the university grapples with whether to invest in, say, a new landline phone system or install a whole new wireless system after water damaged existing lines .

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“The PBX (Avaya equipment) needs to be replaced, but the problem is also that when you build the capacity of the network, you need to have the voice quality. So even if you replace the PBX, the network could still us cause problems,” he said.

Summers continued, “We’re just waiting for the state cloud solutions provider award, which is due in a few weeks. Once this reward is awarded, it will likely be one month for a pilot and two to three months for a full deployment.

Summers said his work will include “examining everything tech-related from the ground up.”

“What comes out of this is the analysis of the gaps between the current capabilities of the IT situation and where you need to be in the future, and then a roadmap. Unfortunately, technology often takes many years, especially when you start talking about infrastructure,” he said.

Summers said he will benchmark the university’s technological capabilities against those of other universities.

“Next, we’ll come up with an implementation plan, but in parallel we’re also looking at wireless and security phones and cameras, and some critical and ongoing projects,” he said.

He said the university failed to make necessary upgrades to its technology infrastructure, which frustrated students, parents, faculty and administration.

“Although the university received CARES Act funding last year, there is three or four years of what I call technical debt. Even though the number of registrations may have been less, when you look at the technology infrastructure, the network has not been updated. Phones and computers all needed to be updated during this time, but obviously with limited funding you created a technical debt balance,” Summers said.

“Student expectations are just through the roof. … They have the games, they have their cell phones, they have their laptops and they have other devices as well. … What I see is that there are several departments that have control of their own destiny, and they have hired IT consultants to meet some of their immediate needs,” he said. declared.

Summers said it will take time to make the necessary changes.

“Even given the funding, you need to be able to execute, and you need internal and external resources to execute. It’s tough when you have the small team of about 10 people who used to be 30 to implemented in parallel on day-to-day operations with the new projects,” he said.

Summers continued, “Even with the CARES Act funding, it’s just time to move into implementation without those resources for wireless, which I would say is about 60 percent coverage.

“I hear from students, faculty, and administration that wireless works in some areas and in others it doesn’t. … We may have all the hotspots, but we have to deploy them, and the same with the network in terms of capacity and then security as well,” Summers said.

“So there are over 100 projects that need a plan and funding and resources, and then there are just, like I said, these resource gaps that need to be filled in order to be able to execute. successfully the request”, said the consultant.

Summers said the university’s technology infrastructure is not scalable.

“We are working on what this cost means. I took the analogy that we bring in all this great new technology. It’s like new cars that you put on the road, a Tesla with all this advanced technology, but you can run it on a two-lane highway, where you need a four-lane highway. And that’s what I see in infrastructure, where you have to do some scalability to support these new cars,” he said.

Summers said information security is also still an issue, with only about 20% meeting security standards.

“Obviously you all know what it can do – having the ransomware security incident – to your brand and obviously to your operations,” he said.

The university fell victim to a ransomware attack last year.

Summers said the goal was to create a continuous flow of information for students and university administration, faculty and staff.

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“There will be additional financing needs given the technical debt for many years,” he said.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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