Ellis discusses cloud infrastructure at the IT Briefing

John Ellis, LITS Deputy CIO.

Deputy CIO John Ellis spoke before a packed house at the March IT Briefing on a topic that is on many people’s minds these days: cloud computing.

“There’s a lot going on,” said Ellis.

The Enterprise Applications Services and Integration (EASI) division that Ellis heads has begun the steps of analyzing the effort it will take to transition some, if not most, of Emory’s computing infrastructure to the cloud. Amazon Web Service (AWS) is the primary vendor the team is working with.

In addition to AWS, EASI is also planning on maintaining a Microsoft Cloud service and a Google Cloud service. The purpose of this is to meet the varying needs of LITS’ researchers and infrastructure.

So far, Emory’s use of the AWS research service has been focused on researchers. AWS is a platform that has a shared responsibility model, but most of the security responsibility is on Emory. As such, the EASI team has automated various aspects of the service to protect the researchers from making mistakes in the environment.

Amazon Web Service.

This research service will go live this summer.

The cloud migration project seeks to research and recommend strategies and options for the migration of Emory’s IT assets to the cloud. The plan is also to create a cloud readiness assessment. The project will deliver a set of recommendations but not actually migrate any applications or services until other projects dictate that they are to be moved.

Thus far, the EASI team has performed a proof of concept, including a security review, configured and deployed the Cloudscape appliance, engaged AWS Enterprise Support (which gave Emory access to Amazon experts), and completed the migration readiness assessment. The readiness assessment tells us where the gaps are.

Ellis discusses the cloud migration project to employees in the monthly IT Briefing.

The next step is to review the statement of work on a joint agreement with AWS and Smartronix. The Cloudscape appliance runs for 30 days and delivers a report of everything that touches the servers.

AWS has a preferred list of 30 consultants that adhere to their Cloud Adoption Framework Perspectives and Smartronix was consultant group that
Ellis’ team selected. “Our strategy is that we want these consultants to come in and advise and assist, but we want to drive the service,” said Ellis. “We want to train our staff rather than use a managed service approach.”

One of the differences between Emory’s current “rack and stack” architecture, in which Emory maintains its own datacenter full of servers, and cloud computing is that in the cloud the infrastructure runs as code. Instead of needing only systems engineering skill, LITS will also need software engineering skill to work in this environment.

The current plan is to take a phased migration approach, in which the readiness assessment was the first phase, an approximately 6-month readiness development and migration planning phase, followed by a 1-to-2-year migration factory.

Mo Davidson (center) asks a question during Q&A. Online attendees were also able to ask questions.

The team hasn’t decided which applications to migrate first. “We want to focus on areas where we have gaps in readiness,” said Ellis.

Currently, Emory is not very close to migration readiness, especially in the area of cloud migration experience. However, this is a common occurrence during migrations to AWS, especially in the education field. In terms of peer institutions, currently Notre Dame is fully in the cloud and Harvard isn’t far behind. Nonetheless, Emory would still be a relatively early adopter in higher education.

Ellis gave a very tentative timeline of engaging consultants to address the migration readiness planning by the end of August 2018, followed by business cases for applications to be migrated to reach IT Governance beginning this fall.

If you would like to view and hear the presentation in its entirety, go to: http://emory.adobeconnect.com/pnadx2tymyr5/.

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