Supporting 1.8 million students within 73 districts and 116 two-year colleges, the California community college system is the largest higher education system in the United States. I am a proud alum of Ventura College, and I am proud to have been employed with VCCCD from 1986 to 1995. I also served as the district’s CTO from 2007 to 2018. My longtime ties to VCCCD make me keenly aware of the immense value that California community colleges deliver to students and their family members in terms of workplace readiness, better career opportunities, and higher income potential.
I am also keenly aware of the day-to-day challenges that campus IT leaders and their team members are facing. The quest to upgrade and modernize technology infrastructure, coupled with IT staffing shortages and the decline in student enrollment at California community colleges since the COVID-19 pandemic, add extra strains to internal teams and budgets that are already stretched thin.
I am honored to have joined a group of experienced Apogee higher education experts in welcoming attendees at the recent 2023 Chief Information Systems Officers Association (CISOA) Technology Summit to talk through these challenges and how we can help. We enjoyed sharing our insights and perspectives, hearing more about the unique IT needs and priorities that community college IT professionals are tasked with addressing, and showcasing how our managed services offerings can address their urgent and important concerns.
I was the co-founder and past president of Cumulus Technology Services, Inc., a company known for its extensive cloud services and higher ed experience in the California community college space. Apogee acquired Cumulus in December, and through this acquisition, Apogee is demonstrating its commitment to extending its managed networking and IT services into the cloud and creating new opportunities for higher ed IT innovation.
I have transitioned into the role of vice president of cloud services and security solutions with Apogee and am working closely with my new colleagues to integrate our resource planning (ERP) cloud migration services, information security services, Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS), Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) into the Apogee Managed Campus portfolio. I’m particularly excited about the Apogee College Data Adapter (formerly the Cumulus Data Adapter) which integrates and synchronizes institutional ERP systems like Ellucian Banner® with learning management systems (LMS) like Canvas by Instructure with a secure, easy-to-deploy tool that greatly improves IT administration efficiency and student life. Offered as a managed service, CDA is yet another essential tool that addresses the big pain point of data synchronization between ERPs and LMSs, streamlining student data integration challenges for IT and improving the student experience for class registration and attendance.
Our Apogee team gets community college IT! We have walked in the shoes of California community college IT teams and campus administrators. Their pain is our pain. Their success is our success.
We are committed to making our customers extremely happy by helping them operate efficiently and effectively to achieve positive returns on their investments with us. Here are a few examples of our California community college partners and what we accomplished so well together.
Allan Hancock College:
- Analyzed needs for Disaster Recovery.
- Provided project management of DR implementation for Ellucian Banner at Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- Assessed security staffing needs and advised on security initiatives and policies.
- Upgraded DR environment to the latest AWS technology.
Antelope Valley College:
- Provided project management of Chrome River implementation (expense and travel management system).
- Assessed needs for server replacement with Hyper-Converged-Infrastructure (HCI) technology.
- Upgraded Ellucian ODS environment.
- Developed, implemented, and tested a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan for Ellucian Banner environment to meet a compliance requirement.
- Working with the AVC team, migrated Ellucian Banner environment to AWS.
College of the Sequoias:
- Assessed the feasibility of moving the data center to the cloud and led the migration of multiple critical applications to AWS, including Ellucian Banner.
- Deployed Apogee CDA to provide real-time data exchange between Banner and Canvas.
El Camino College:
- I served as interim chief technology officer for eight months in late 2019 and early 2020. Our services included gathering accreditation evidence for a virtual site visit in fall of 2020, leading efforts to upgrade network infrastructure and reduce telecommunications costs by more than 75 percent.
Hartnell College: Provided advice on infrastructure after a ransomware attack.
Mendocino College: Developed a cloud migration assessment plan for Ellucian Colleague ERP.
North Orange County Community College District:
- I served as interim director of infrastructure and security in 2019 while the incumbent director was on a National Guard deployment.
- Led efforts to secure board approval for a $20 million network refresh project.
- In 2022, assisted with recovery from a ransomware attack, performed a security assessment and developed a plan and budget to implement a comprehensive security program to strengthen security and mitigate risk.
- Fulfilled a virtual CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) function for the district, assisting with multiple infrastructure and security projects.
- Provided ongoing services, including administering Banner and Oracle databases and also enhancing Ellucian Banner Finance and Payroll systems.
- Working with the NOCCCD IS team, migrated Ellucian Banner environment to AWS.
Pasadena City College: Advised on infrastructure initiatives and migration of Banner to Ellucian Cloud at AWS.
Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD):
- Completed an assessment to determine feasibility to migrate Ellucian Colleague to AWS or Azure managed by RSCCD.
- Provided ongoing AWS support.
- Assisted with modernization of technology job descriptions.
- Assisted with migration of Ellucian Banner to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).
- Assisted with security initiatives after a ransomware attack, such as creating a DR plan, including improving backup capabilities, updating security policies, and revamping staffing to strengthen information security.
South Orange County Community College District: I served as the acting director of Technology Services for Irvine Valley College for eight months in 2022.
State Center Community College District: We have assisted the district with Canvas LMS administration and IT strategic guidance.
Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD): I saved my personal favorite for last because of how close I am to this district. I retired from VCCCD to launch Cumulus with Mike Rose, who was also an employee of VCCCD years ago. Mike is vice president of cloud services and application development for Apogee. Mike led the migration of Ellucian Banner to AWS, making VCCCD one of the first higher ed institutions in the country to complete this type of migration. We also deployed the Apogee College Data Adapter to provide real-time data exchange between Ellucian Banner and Canvas. Mike and I are incredibly proud to continue serving this wonderful school that we know so well.
I hope this blog post has helped you learn more about what Apogee can now deliver because of the acquisition that was completed in December. We’re working hard to integrate the two companies and we want to hear about your challenges and discuss how we can help. To connect with us, please fill out this short form.