Image: Shock rippled through higher education technology circles last month when the Ohio State University announced it would drop a key facet of its partnership with the software vendor Workday, abandoning plans to become a high-profile early adopter of the company’s cloud-based student information system product, Workday Student.

Outside analysts and university chief information officers pegged the likely sunk costs for Ohio State to be in the tens of millions of dollars and described the severed partnership as just the latest example of challenging and high-stakes efforts to upgrade student information systems (SIS). While Ohio State officials declined to comment on the costs or specifics of the project, industry leaders called it a closely watched experiment because of the intricacies embedded in creating next-generation cloud-based student information systems—particularly for tier-one research institutions—as well as the vital need for more advanced cloud-based student information systems sectorwide.

If Ohio State can’t do it, the thinking

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