Getting a Major University Cloud Ready

Envisian vendor independence coupled with our Cloud knowledge were essential in helping a one of Australia’s leading universities select the right Cloud service providers and prepare its people, processes and technology for Cloud Adoption.

Technology has always played a key role in the university to keep its staff and students connected with each other, as well as to support its administration, record keeping and data collection/dissemination functions integral to the smooth running of a major education and research institution.  Matching an off-the-shelf Cloud solution to the university’s established processes and legacy systems would bring new challenges.

When we came on board in late 2015, the university had been testing the waters but did not have a productionised Cloud. It had just gone to market with a Competitive Dialogue Process to glean information from various commercial Cloud providers.  Its next step was to match these diverse offerings with its Cloud Strategy and capabilities.  And it sought the advice of an independent, experienced consultancy to bridge that gap.

Our first step was to streamline the Cloud vendor list into a more manageable number, ensuring we retained vendors with proven service offers. Concurrently, we reviewed the university’s Cloud Strategy to see whether its journey, to date, had laid a robust foundation to readily adopt Cloud. We measured and assessed its maturity and capabilities against the IDC’s Cloud Maturity model, and interviewed key IT personnel about the university’s people, processes and technology.

Armed with a better understanding of its Cloud Readiness, independent of Cloud provider promises, our client was able to make a more informed choice around capacity, flexibility, and capability of Cloud vendor offerings to meet its particular needs, thereby reducing business risk and costs.

It also had a clearer picture of the changes it had to make, the gaps it had to fill, and the opportunities in its existing systems, to meet the challenges of integrating a new technology.

Starting with ‘People’ we recommended the university shift the focus of its IT Department to automation and orchestration and drive its cloud direction through the appointment of Cloud Champions and updated KPIs. We also recommended it appoint a dedicated Cloud Services Manager and Cloud Services Team and that it increase collaboration between the business and IT, including alignment of processes.

Looking at processes, we suggested an increased focus on Enterprise Architecture capability, the implementation of availability, capacity and financial management processes and the uplift of existing Service Delivery (ITIL) processes to better align to Cloud methodologies.

With regard to technology we found that the infrastructure, software and processes currently in place were relatively mature and provided a sound foundation for Cloud.  In particular we found its existing virtualised environment could be used to provide an overall cloud platform management capability for its new public and private Cloud services.  However, there were some key things to address.  Before taking its workloads to Cloud, we urged the university develop and implement a structured three-tier Security Zone Model for all applications; and that it implement/introduce a Software Defined Network solution to allow easier transition to Cloud.

Some of our recommendations were realised immediately, for example the Cloud Service Team.  Others are a work-in-progress. In the meantime we continue to consult with the university around Cloud migration / workload placement tooling, and to supplement internal expertise with Cloud, network and virtualisation specialists.