Sep 19 2016

Higher Ed Finds Tailored, Scalable IT Solutions in the Hybrid Cloud

The hybrid cloud model allows higher ed institutions to leverage their existing onsite resources with new IT infrastructure.

Tasked with managing costly, siloed systems across three campuses, the IT Shared Services team at the University of North Texas decided it was time for a change: In 2015, the organization made the switch to a hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Under the direction of Rama Dhuwaraha, UNT’s associate vice chancellor and CIO, Shared Services implemented the EMC Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution in less than one month. The swift deployment now gives users access to a self-service portal of 60 shared services, including data storage management and server provisioning; it also drives down the cost of IT without impacting level of service.

“The hybrid cloud helps us leverage public and private resources, gives customers control and visibility and, in return, helps our IT staff regain time through service automation and increased speed when delivering services,” Dhuwaraha says.

Taking advantage of other important cloud benefits — namely, the flexibility and scalability to meet business needs — Dhuwaraha’s team plans to add more shared services down the road.

Use Just the Services That Make Sense

While North Carolina State University also adheres to a hybrid cloud model, that institution blends onsite IT solutions with cloud offerings from multiple vendors.

For instance, the IT team maintains services related to finance, HR, student services and business intelligence on-premises but looks to the cloud for project management, asset tracking and training applications. Google Apps for Education and Microsoft Office 365 serve as the institution’s main cloud productivity suites.

Eric Sills, assistant vice chancellor at NC State, explains the reasoning behind the mix: “Various services have different requirements that make onsite or offsite approaches the better choice, some for cost and some for time to delivery,” he says. “Elastic capacity is also an attractive feature of offsite and hybrid options.”

Deploying the Cloud in Context

The University of Maryland University College (UMUC), which offers career-relevant courses both online and onsite, began its foray into the hybrid cloud in 2012. Since then, the institution has deployed a number of Software as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service solutions, and turned to native cloud apps for collaboration and productivity capabilities.

According to UMUC Vice president and Chief Technology Officer Jason Reed, the migration was motivated by a realization that the technology team was not an IT organization, exclusively.

“We exist for higher education purposes, and wherever we can reallocate resources, whether that’s dollars or brainpower or human resources, to focus on education and our students’ experience, we try to do that,” Reed says.

The transition became less about the technology and more about human change management and organizational dynamics; and in that regard, Reed considers it a success.

“From a human factor, I’ve got a lot more creativity all of a sudden because people aren’t thinking, ‘I’ve got to patch this server or watch out for this network vulnerability,’” he says. “I’ve got folks thinking, ‘What are we really trying to accomplish with our students?’”


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