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Q&A with The College Network – Modernizing IT Infrastructure with EarthLink

On February 11, 2014, Ryan Sallee, Chief Information Officer of The College Network (TCN) accepted his Frost & Sullivan Chief Information Officer Impact Award in the Cloud Computing category at the gala held in conjunction with 2nd Annual ConNEXTions 2014: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange. An EarthLink customer and pioneer in the online education industry, TCN won the award for its customized, EarthLink private cloud solution that modernized their entire IT infrastructure and strengthened interdepartmental communication.

In 2011, Sallee moved TCN to EarthLink and placed daily management of the infrastructure in the hands of our team. We deployed a customized Cloud Hosting and Dedicated Server solution that runs core business applications including customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning applications, file and utility servers, content delivery system and customer registration system. IT Insights had an opportunity to interview Sallee just after the awards ceremony, and now share the conversation. Click here to read our press release about this prestigious honor for the IT leader.

After the award show, we took a few minutes to talk more with Ryan – Our conversation is below:

EarthLink Insights:  You won this award for IT Innovation in Cloud Computing. How did EarthLink help you achieve innovation within your company? In thinking of your business initiatives, what did you set out to achieve or innovate?

Sallee:  EarthLink gave us the tools to allow our internal IT team to provide technology solutions to help solve business challenges. In terms of our initiatives, we set out to change the face of IT within our organization. The goal was to give the business units access to knowledge and resources within the IT team. Again, this allowed the IT team to engage with the business and not just support the business.

EarthLink Insights:  What competitive edge has your IT strategy helped you achieve in your industry? How do you feel an improved IT strategy will differentiate you from your competition?

Sallee:  Our IT team is now engaged as a business unit and not just as a support team. It gives us a different perspective at the business level. Now, we’re able to examine the challenge at hand and also look at how to avoid other issues by using technology in a streamlined way. There is better communication across the enterprise with regard to systems and process.  At the end of the day, if you can leverage people, processes and technology to help drive business and align your technology strategy with your business strategy, you will be successful.

EarthLink Insights:  Are there any past failures from which you’ve learned? If so, how did you overcome those setbacks?

Sallee:  No plan is perfect. I always go into every project with realistic expectations. Part of my role is to deliver results and manage expectations at the same time.  We always try to adapt to changes as they come and make decisions that continue to move us forward with the end in mind.

EarthLink Insights:  What did you learn from other innovators and attendees at the CIO Awards? (Share something that gave you an epiphany or a topic you found particularly compelling.)

Sallee:  The CIO Awards have provided me with the opportunity to connect with others in my role. It has given me a better understanding of the CIO role as a whole. I think that the role is always evolving and it’s more important than ever. With that said, I feel that The College Network’s IT strategy is positioned well. We have discussed and implemented a number of new ideas. Even with our smaller technology staff, we are able to try new things and move quicker than some. Our goal is to align with the overall business strategy and always try to be a step ahead in regards to what may be possible.

Learn more about our cloud hosting solutions and watch out other customer testimonial videos to see how we can help transform your IT strategy.

About Pamela O'Connor

Pamela O'Connor
Pam O’Connor, Corporate Communications Manager for EarthLink, has more than a decade of proven marketing communications and public relations experience in corporate, non-profit and agency environments. As a marketing consultant, she’s advised clients ranging from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to SAS Institute. Pam is a recipient of the Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award recognizing innovative business practice in North Carolina. She earned her Master of Science from the London School of Economics and her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is active in many philanthropic organizations, including Greyhound Rescue of North Carolina, The Wake County Autism Society, and PlayMakers Repertory Company.