Sharing resources between university and college information technology units results in faster, better services on campus at a significantly lower cost. The NB/PEI Education Computing Network, a consortium of universities and colleges in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, was recognized with a national award in 2015 for its collaboration of IT services.
The network includes the University of New Brunswick, l’Université de Moncton, St. Thomas University, Mount Allison University, Maritime College of Forest Technology, New Brunswick Community College, Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, the University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College. These members have worked together to provide data and communications networking, joint procurement and professional development opportunities over the years.
The network, known by the acronym ECN and operated by the information technology services unit at UNB Fredericton, completed an important project in cooperation with the Canadian Access Federation, which allows a user at one member institution to access IT services at another institution. This forms a foundation to build new shared services, such as a shared data centre and applications like SharePoint.
“ECN reduces IT costs for members by $1 million per year and has been amazingly successful in attracting capital investment from the federal and provincial governments – more than $4 million has been contributed to the development and expansion of the core research and education data network over the last few years alone,” said Terry Nikkel, associate vice-president of information technology services at UNB.
Further value is gleaned from the collaboration, co-operation and interpersonal relationships among the members. This has strengthened the computing network’s reputation across the country as having one of the best governance, management and operating models among similar organizations.
CUCCIO, Canada’s community of information technology leaders in higher education, selected ECN for its inaugural Collaboration Award, which recognizes initiatives that promote collaboration within the higher education IT sector between users, faculties or departments, campuses or institutions.
“ECN has been doing shared services of one sort or another for over 40 years,” says Mr. Nikkel, “and has built an unprecedented culture of trust, co-operation and focus on value that is unique among its peers.”