Pepperdine University Makes the Grade with KeyInfo

Pepperdine Case Study

Pepperdine University is a private, faith-based academic institution based in Malibu, California. Founded in 1937, the university’s approximately 8,000 full-time and part-time students pursue 73 bachelor, master and doctoral degree programs across five colleges and schools, with a 12:1 student to faculty ratio. The university supports international programs, NCAA athletic institutions and many other academic endeavors.

“KeyInfo provided the guidance, white papers and resources we needed to get up to speed – now, we’re already seeing cost benefits and an improved user experience for our community.”  – Ed Wheeler, Director of Interactive within Integrated Marketing Communications

For more than 30 years, Pepperdine used internally designed IT servers to support its applications and public websites. In 2014, the university embarked on a major redesign across its network of websites in order to promote new student recruitment and better serve its existing community. In the process, the team realized that its current IT model could not provide the flexibility and scalability to manage this change. Looking to free itself from its Windows-based platform and the backup schedule of its in-house servers, Pepperdine conducted an industry audit of server hosting options, during which it was referred to Key Information Systems (KeyInfo™). The team was attracted to KeyInfo, a local partner that could enhance the university’s flexibility and innovation by migrating Pepperdine to an open-source platform, all the while cementing a relationship that could produce new opportunities over time.

THE PROCESS

Pepperdine looked to KeyInfo to help transition away from its internal servers; support its computer, storage, networking and backup with KeyCloud™; and shift its Windows environment to open source in order to make its website redesign a reality. Since KeyInfo headquarters were local to the Pepperdine campus, the university team was able to visit and tour the KeyInfo facility before the companies began working together. KeyInfo was initially recommended to Pepperdine by a trusted third-party vendor, so with this referral along with KeyInfo’s cost-effective solutions and general rapport the companies were building, the partnership became an ideal fit.

“Knowing that we were backed by KeyInfo, we were confident that everything would go as planned.” – Ed Wheeler, Director of Interactive within Integrated Marketing Communications

In addition to its website data, Pepperdine University wanted KeyInfo to support its mission-critical applications, such as its content management systems (CMS), event management and calendaring application, Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) platform, unified mobile application data and database systems. While Pepperdine’s internal servers had limited options for database systems, working with KeyInfo opened new opportunities for the university. For example, the Pepperdine team was interested in evaluating new service opportunities and exploring the potential to add more long-term storage and archiving capabilities for media. As the university transitioned from Windows to Linux, the team needed to gain a deeper understanding of the hosting environment. “Before we shifted over, most of our servers were operating in a Windows 2003 environment, and KeyInfo provided the guidance, white papers and resources we needed to get up to speed – now, we’re already seeing cost benefits and an improved user experience for our community.” said Ed Wheeler, Director of Interactive within Integrated Marketing Communications.

THE RESULT

Based on the KeyInfo team’s recommendations about cloud usage and its use of a server farm that organized Pepperdine’s websites in a more efficient model, the university immediately saw cost savings. The university’s individual schools have had an uptick in inbound requests for information, and student interactions with school programs have increased. Initially, the Pepperdine team noted increased time spent on its websites, an overall increase in mobile and social media contacts and usage, and heightened organic search traffic as a result of partnering with KeyInfo. Moving forward, the Pepperdine team hopes to track a further correlation between its use of KeyInfo technology and incoming student applications.

Overall, Pepperdine has been impressed with the level of personalized support provided by KeyInfo. Wheeler stated, “We can call anyone at any level of the company, and talk to them about any subject. From our first impression of KeyInfo, the company stuck out due to its comprehensive service offerings and the team’s instant feedback cycle, and both continue to meet our initial expectations.”

During the transition to KeyInfo, Pepperdine was affected by denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, which initially resulted in server and website outages. In response, KeyInfo provided detailed real-time reports about the attacks and worked with the Pepperdine team to quickly bring systems back online. Despite these issues, the end result of the university’s website redesign and server migration was successfully executed in February 2015. “We went live with KeyInfo servers on the same day as our new website network, which serves all five schools in the university,” said Wheeler. “Knowing that we were backed by KeyInfo, we were confident that everything would go as planned.”

“This will be a long-term relationship – we have no reason to think otherwise,” said Wheeler. “As we grow with KeyInfo, we plan to take advantage of options like full backup services and long-term storage. Having compared the company in an audit against its competitors, we’re confident that we’re getting the top services, support and price that the market has to offer.”