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Developing A Campus Cloud Strategy

Strategies for improving operations and reducing costs
University Business, August 2018
From left to right: Jacqui Spicer, Chief Operating Officer, Baker College; Gus Ortiz, Managed Services Program Manager and Principal Consultant, Jenzabar
From left to right: Jacqui Spicer, Chief Operating Officer, Baker College; Gus Ortiz, Managed Services Program Manager and Principal Consultant, Jenzabar

Under pressure to contain costs and improve efficiency, many institutions are turning to cloud-based models for their ERP, HR, finance and other crucial systems. Cloud models create more collaborative, interactive environments wherein critical data is more accessible, making more resources available for institutions to better serve students.

This web seminar outlined advantages of cloud-based systems for higher ed institutions, and how to develop the right cloud strategy for any campus. The COO from Baker College and a cloud services expert from Jenzabar discussed strategies and best practices to help any institution take advantage of the cloud model to reduce the burden on IT departments, improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve services.

Speakers

Jacqui Spicer
Chief Operating Officer
Baker College

Gus Ortiz
Managed Services Program Manager and Principal Consultant
Jenzabar

Gus Ortiz: Is the cloud a big deal? This seems to be less of a question as time goes by. Nicholas Carr—author of The Big Switch: Rewiring The World From Edison To Google—makes the supposition that the personal computer, the internet and the cloud are the three biggest technological revolutions in our lifetime, and the cloud is essential as a foundation for future innovations and for entirely new business models and business ventures.

That is very much a true statement.

When we talk about cloud computing, we need to come up with a common definition, and fortunately the government already has. According to the National Institutes for Standards and Technology, cloud computing has each of these characteristics: it’s ubiquitous, convenient, on demand, has configurable resources, is rapidly provisioned, and requires minimal interaction and effort. It’s what we in IT have been looking for: more speed, more services, more capacity, more capability, and all those things done as quickly and with as little effort as possible.

Why are higher ed CIOs moving to the cloud? It used to be for disaster recovery and business continuity. Nowadays the primary consideration is agility—the thought that you can gain access to more, better, faster computing resources with a faster, easier, lower-cost method.

Jacqui Spicer: Five years ago we embarked upon a strategic plan that prioritized the evaluation of our legacy enterprise systems in order to support migrating to the cloud. We also set out to change our value proposition to being an IT team that was in the solutions business. It was easy to see that the future wasn’t going to be about managing services—it was going to be about mastering relationships and providing value.

What did we see as the value of the cloud? Our predominant focus was on enterprise SaaS offerings, because we believed that we could leverage industry best practices and experience less down time, allowing us to better use our IT resources. We’d be able to partner with our providers to extend our data center if needed.

We also capitalized on it as an opportunity to improve our internal stakeholder relationships, to garner greater user engagement and to improve IT security, along with the benefits of having the provider’s expertise to support product updates.

We’re in the final year of our strategic plan. We have migrated all of our enterprise services to the cloud, and we’re in the home stretch. Here are the top six lessons we learned:

1. From a governance perspective, when you migrate systems you have to worry about data. When you have various data pieces and you change data definitions, you need to have a solid data dictionary.

2. You have integrations to your legacy systems while you’re migrating, and integrations to third-party vendors that you may or may not use in the future, and then you have integrations with new third- party vendors. So you have to maintain a greater focus on integrations.

3. Ensure that you have audit reports so you can make sure that the data is flowing as you would expect.

4. Retrain your IT resources. We knew they wouldn’t be managing servers, they would be managing services. So how can you give IT better soft skills or train them to be more business analysts or more focused on the business and more user-centric?

5. Your vendor relationship is ongoing, so how do you ensure that your upgrades are done in a timely manner, and how do you coordinate that with your users, and how do you coordinate testing? That relationship should morph and it should become more of a partnership as you move forward.

6. Security will always be critical. Ensure that you can get SOC reports and such to support, to ensure that there’s some security there as well.

Gus Ortiz: As you develop your own cloud strategy, think about the issues you’re trying to face—what is it that you’re trying to solve? Do you have functional, financial, practical and other needs? Are you looking for high availability? Are you faced with restricted capital funds? Are there other things that are impacting your ability? And what other enhancements can you bring to your users that they are clamoring for, that they are demanding to gain, that the cloud transition can help solve for you?

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit universitybusiness.com/ws062618