As students and administrators seek anytime, anywhere access to the cloud, higher ed IT teams must face their fears and get to work.
Having already virtualized its data center, IT staff at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore are preparing to roll out virtual desktops to students and staff as well as to student computer labs and business departments this fall.
The university is leveraging public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings where it makes sense, says Louise Finn, Loyola CIO and associate vice president of technology services. In 2010, Finn turned to a commercial provider to back up the university’s web presence and Domain Name Services. If Loyola’s main and secondary data centers go down, the university can use the public cloud to build a web page to provide students and parents with the latest information.
Finn says the university is migrating its enterprise resource-planning system from IBM AIX servers to Windows servers. Once complete, the IT department will look into using Microsoft’s Azure IaaS cloud to augment its server capacity.
The university needs extra virtual servers several times a year to handle the load of students registering for classes. “We need extra capacity fewer than 10 days a year. We can add more computing power when we need it and dial it back when registration ends,” Finn says.
Overall, Finn is a fan of the on-demand capabilities of public IaaS clouds. Over time, she believes most universities will use a mix of private- and public-cloud services for their infrastructure needs.
“I love how you can pay as you go,” she says. “You can scale much faster, and the time to move anything to production is so much faster because the provisioning process is so quick.”
There are many ways to leverage IaaS. Choosing to do so doesn’t inhibit an institution’s ability or responsibility to set strategic directions and goals for infrastructure, according to the EDUCAUSE brief “Spotlight on Cloud Computing Series: Infrastructure as a Service."
“The implementational and operational details might change, but the infrastructure still needs to meet institutional priorities,” the brief points out.
There are a number of things to consider when determining whether IaaS is right for your institution, EDUCAUSE advises:
Download the full EDUCAUSE brief here.