Archive for the 'Cloud Computing' Category

Are You Doing “It”? (Cloud Computing…What Did You Think?)

Everybody’s doing it. You know you want to, too….

Well, everybody’s talking about doing it, at least. But what is “it,” exactly? Turns out it’s rather complicated, and somewhat subjective. There’s outsourcing. Hosting. Software as a Service (SaaS). Public clouds. Virtual private clouds. And so on.

The “it” I’m talking about, of course, is cloud computing. And we’re definitely doing it at my school. Or, well, talking about it anyway. Planning for it, really. So if you’re planning for “it” too, it’s really important to know what you want “it” to do for you—what your objectives are—to ensure that you pick the right flavor of cloud computing, or right flavor mix, to meet your needs.

Here are my objectives at the moment (subject to change, as we’re currently developing our strategy), as well as some underlying assumptions:

  1. Create an easily maintainable, highly scalable, and environmentally-friendly IT infrastructure
  2. Reduce overall IT infrastructure costs
  3. Focus IT resources on the college’s core “business” – teaching and learning
  4. Increase access to technology resources and services
  5. Promote [my school] as a technologic leader and innovator

Implicit in these objectives is that a fully-implemented cloud computing strategy will:

  • Shift the focus from capital to operating expenses, with an overall cost reduction
  • Reduce the amount of staff (FTE) needed to support and maintain a cloud infrastructure
  • Reduce electronic waste and energy consumption
  • Increase flexibility to meet growing demand or bring new services online
  • Enable campus constituents to access campus services from anywhere

My vision for our institution is a technology-free data center. I want to walk into my data center and see fresh white walls, bright lights, and *no* servers. It’s not that infrastructure isn’t important – it is. It is the foundation upon which all of our services are built, and like the foundation of a house, it needs to be solid, reliable, and secure. But operating a data center provides no strategic advantage for my institution, and I would suspect, for most institutions. By leveraging various forms of cloud computing to realize operational efficiencies, we can refocus our finite IT resources towards supporting activities that *are* core to the institution—namely, teaching and learning.

I don’t know if it’s possible to get to an empty server room (and realize the benefits of such), but we’re sure going to try over the next year or so. Will you be doing “it” too?

@rclemmons on Twitter

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