Category Archives: Education

Moving to the Cloud with Amazon Web Services

Presenters

  • Ron Kraemer, VP and CIO, University of Notre Dame
  • Ryan Frazier, Director, System Engineering & Operations, Harvard Business School
  • Sarah Christen, Director of Community Platforms and CIO, Cornell University
  • Mike Chapple, Senior Director, IT Service Delivery, University of Notre Dame
  • Blake Chism, IT Transformation Sr., Amazon Web Services

Resource

Session Introduction

RC: we want to accomplish 1 major goal: roadmap and framework to take back to campus and “deal with the cloud in your culture and your world.”

It’s not perfect, and it’s a lot of work. BUT, it’s better service to our universities if we do it well.

SC: we’re a cloud-first institution. Lots of leadership change since that initiative started. We have 62 accounts under our master contract (master contract signed 18 months ago). Lots of accounts outside our contract. About $300K annual spend outside the IT org…we have a very distributed IT model.

We call the transformation “cloudification.” It’s a partnership with campus IT units. We refactor for most effective use of cloud technologies and containerization vs. “lift and shift.” Central IT must be the expert that campus wants to come to for help. We want to enable, not enforce (we do have SOME requirements to move to the master contract). We understand that if IaaS isn’t better with us, campus will make the move without us. We allow campus technologists to focus on unit differentiators central IT can help with the utilities.

Reqs for Cornell Master Contract

  • Onboarding discussion
  • Attestation
  • Shibboleth for authentication
  • DUO for multi-factor authentication for AWS Console access
  • Lock down root account, escrow with security office
  • Activation of AWS config
  • Activation of CloudTrail
  • CloudTrail logs sent to Security office
  • Activation of Cloudcheckr

What About Researcher AWS Accounts?

  • Easy onboarding without a lot of steps or complication
  • No interference with their research. No overhead (cost or performance)
  • Solutions for export control data and other compliance reqs.
  • Standard network config not always a good fit. “I am an island, not part of Cornell campus.”
  • Technical consultation options: docker, data storage, training, devops support

Today

  • All centrally hosted apps are being moved if possible
  • Infrastructure services are a large part of our on prem inventory
  • Campus units are moving more quickly than our central IT org

Biggest Challenge to Cloud Transformation: RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

RF: I’m director of Infrastructure Customer and Project Services. Initiated cloud strategy and planning when I was in the central IT division.

Cloud @Harvard

  • <2013: Exploration. Very early adopters at Harvard Medical School (research lab), pockets of uncoordinated use, little use within central and school-level IT departments.
  • 2013-2016: Alignment. We got enterprise agreement, direct billing and enterprise support services, laid technical foundations, brought on early adopters, developed cloud strategy.
  • 2016-?: Implementation. Accelerating adoption at all levels, i.e. labs, initiatives, schools, and central IT; shared service roadmaps; early adopters beginning to focus on optimization.

The Case for Cloud

  • Quality, cost, reliability, speed.
  • cloud.huit.harvard.edu
  • Our goal was to have 75% of our infrastructure at AWS by 2017. We’re currently at 31%.

HBX: Can We Deliver the Rich Interactive Experience of the Business School Online?

  • LET’S TRY
  • Move fast – 90 days to build, implement and launch application and registration system, < 1 year for complete course platform
  • Run independent of HBS IT – minimize impact on eisting services, enable new approaches to new needs
  • Be able to scale up or down rapidly – prepare for success or failure of the experiment

AWS Service Mix

  • 17 VPCs, 23 ELBs, 135 EC2 instances, 345 EBS volumes, 18TB instance storage, 4 Redshift Clusters, 18 RDS DBs, 30+ TB loaded via snowball, 78 TB object storage
  • Storage is a very small part of our spend (data transfer is 1%)
  • EC2 is about 58% of our spend

Notre Dame’s Journey to the Cloud

Why move at all? For us, we were sitting on an aging data center infrastructure. A capital investment – particularly cooling – had to happen if were going to continue. Tech demands from students, faculty and administrators outpaced our time and budget. In 2012, emergency communications were a critical concern.

2012

Originally we moved the web site as part of an emergency mitigation effort – “can we move the site in the event of an emergency?”

  • www.nd.edu
  • 3 web servers
  • load-driven autoscaling
  • Geographic diversity
  • It was really an easy move for us

2013

  • 435 web sites
  • 4 million monthly views
  • db as a service
  • ElastiCache

Cloud First

  • In 2013, we began having conversations about “why don’t we move everything over?”
  • We wanted to take advantage of what the cloud offers: 80% by the end of 2017; we’re at 59% today.
  • SaaS first, then PaaS, then IaaS, then on-prem.
  • Setting a goal created “a line in the sand,” that made it real for our people.

What We Learned

  • Rethink technical roles. NOBODY IS GOING TO LOSE THEIR JOB! However, you might not be doing the same job three years from now…
  • We were a very siloed organization prior to the cloud move. As a result of our move, those silos are breaking down.
  • Rethink security processes and tools (this was hard for us). We’re not mapping THINGS 1-to-1, we’re mapping OBJECTIVES.
  • Leverage automation – we’ve used ansible
  • Practical financial engineering. Our data center manager is now the guy who is our financial expert, who gives us insight into our costs. We’ve standardized on regions, instances (T2 class – about 3/4 of all our instances), use of reserve instances, etc.
  • Make a few choices and just go with them!

Cloud Transformation Maturity Model

  • Project Stage: limited knowledge, executive support, inability to purchase, limited confidence, no clear ownership or direction.
  • Foundation Stage
  • Migration Stage
  • Optimization Stage

Blake Chism from AWS: we developed this model to help you figure out where you are in the process. We’ve found that for most of our customers, procurement conversations are getting easier, but they’re still a challenge. If the central IT team helps take ownership, it can help organizations move forward more effectively, i.e. central IT not perceived as “being in the way.”

If your team has good processes now, your move will be much easier.

Project Stage

No matter what, you need to have a business case, a reason why you’re doing it. The roadmap helps describe how you’re doing it. Governance models evolve, and you get better at understanding them. Services change, and you need to have a plan about how you’ll integrate them (or not).

POC are much easier because if it doesn’t work, you can simply shut it off and you’re only out a few bucks. Try things out!

During the Project Stage, establish a “Cloud Center of Excellence” or “Cloud Competency Center” to get the organization moving in the right direction.

Foundation Stage

Lack of a detailed organizational transformation plan can be a challenge. Do a staff skills gap analysis to help you here.

Migration Stage

Should be as short as possible to get over the hump of hybrid and duplicate hosting. All-in will allow you to BEGIN doing new and exciting things. Imagine a space where the default state of, say, development environments, is OFF. All in is just the end of the adoption journey.

Were your enterprise systems like LMS, SIS, HR, Financials and the portal viewed as special and treated differently from smaller apps? Have you moved them yet?

  • Cornell: our KFS (Kuali) finance moved first (we dockerize ours) high availability on file shares was an early challenge (EFS – Elastic File Services are out now)
  • Harvard: IdM was first, we do Peoplesoft now, Oracle e-business is happening now
  • ND: ERP and LMS  – do not separate db servers and application servers!

AWS Cloud Adoption Journey

ALL: we use our AWS solutions architects extensively, and we’ve relied on AWS consulting almost exclusively for our migrations. These interactions have helped to accelerate our staff learning, because our staff are the ones who will need to maintain it long-term.

The professional services unit can help you figure out the high-level ecosystem you need for your particular situation. Enterprise support services is a bit pricey, but it’s useful in many cases.

SC: at Cornell, we created a 100 day training program that includes getting Amazon Solutions Architect certification. This is a good way to assure a certain level of competency. Some schools are using our model for training up their people, and they’re also using it as a way to network and learn new things, i.e. get names of people at other institutions that are going through the same problems.

Building the Roadmap – “Cloud Adoption Framework”

More details here: https://aws.amazon.com/education/movingtothecloudworkshop/

Organizes and describes the perspectives in planning, creating, managing, and supporting a modern IT service. Provides practical guidance and comprehensive guidelines for establishing, developing and running AWS cloud-enabled environments.

Don’t try to use all the components at once! Have your Cloud Center of Excellence (or whatever you choose to call it) do it in sprints by taking five or six of the elements and working through them.

In the private sector, the push to move to the cloud typically comes from the top. In higher ed IT, the push to move to the cloud typically comes from below. What we’ve often done is break off a small part of our budget, and use it to fund an “engineering SkunkWorks” where we can do the POCs and get staff buy-in. If the “where you do computing versus how you do computing” equation doesn’t click in your leadership’s minds, you’re going to have a hard time going anywhere.

The 2016 MMWCon Mega Post

Hey friends,

Once again, it’s time for another one of my conference “mega posts,” this time from the 2016 UCLA Mobile & Modern Web Conference. This mega post links to the notes I took from almost every session I attended, and proves that I was here and learned something. Some of this will be more useful than others…I drifted at times. There was some great work on display at this conference; I always meet awesome people and take away at least a couple gems that I didn’t know going in. As always, any mistakes, omissions or just plain crappy coverage are totally mine. Who knows, I may have even gotten something right 😉 Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14

Thursday, October 15

Friday, October 16

 

Chorus: Visually creating mobile web, SMS, and interactive voice apps

Presenter: Armen Arevian, UCLA (Telemedicine specialist, among other things)

Personal note: Chorus looks a bit like IFTTT to me

Disparities in Technology Development

  • Technical sophistication
  • Financial Resources
  • Creating tech that’s actually used and has impact
  • Sustainability of projects/maintenance

…results in several limitations

  • Created by a select few
  • Smaller subset sustains them
  • Limited types of people that can be directly involved in creating technologies
  • Time delays to create technologies
  • Limited customization/tailoring of technologies that can be created

Traditional Development

  • Development process = Expert + IT + User feedback

“Participatory Technology Development”

  • Stakeholders as equal co-partners
  • Community-based participatory research

Chorus

  • Visually create apps yourself in real-time
  • HIPAA compliant
  • Vetted by UCLA OIT security & Semel IT
  • Approved for use in research
  • Provides basic interaction building blocks, but users create their own story about what makes sense
  • Reads & writes to the web app

Armen then gave a demonstration of Chorus…very impressive!

A Global University Experience: how The Minerva Schools at KGI’s Technology allows its Students to become Global Citizens

Presenter: Eric Bonabeau

With Minerva, we have a chance to start from scratch, with first principles…we know how to maximize learning, based on a set of metrics. Let’s build a delivery mechanism that will maximize learning.

Putting 300 students in a big auditorium and lecturing them should be illegal! Well, let me walk that back…the issue is that classes of that size will not allow for students to meaningfully interact with the (likely world class) professor. In a city like Los Angeles, Berlin, San Francisco, the city is your campus, in smaller towns, the campus is your city.

93% of employers said a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems is more important than a job candidate’s undergraduate degree. This is the reason Minerva exists.

What is the most common job in America today? What will it be in ten years? Self-driving cars were not something that would have been predicted ten years ago…what’s next?

“A future proof education”

  • Practical knowledge
  • Engaging Classrooms
  • Global Immersion
  • Accessible Admissions

We get students involved in lots of co-curricular activities.

Tuition is $12,000/year, which is inexpensive by American standards. However, for the rest of the world this is pretty expensive. Out of 12,000 applicants, we only accepted 300 students. We want innovators and global citizens.

Specific Aspects

  • Thinking critically
  • Thinking creatively
  • Communicating effectively
  • Interacting effectively

Habits of mind/automatic cognitive reflexes

Use plausibility checks to determine whether claims are reasonable; use principles of effective debating, ID your audience & tailor oral & written work accordingly, and more.

It’s a journey toward mastery; active learning is key

Eric then showed a video that sampled class instruction and interaction with students.

 

 

Mobile App Governance and sharing in a highly distributed hybrid mobile environment

Presenter: Rose Rocchio

Impact of Sensors on Schools

  • Wellness
  • Transponders on buses
  • iBeacons
  • etc.
  • Privacy concerns

Everyone is a publisher; governance matters

  • What qualifies as an institutional app?
  • What brand requirements are there?
  • Compliance requirements?
  • Processes in place to assure QA, security, legal requirements?
  • Need to ID and understand needs of all constituents the institution is trying to serve

App Governance Questions

  • Ads?
  • App content appropriate to be under university umbrella?
  • Will data be collected? Is it local use?
  • Is it going to be published?
  • Who’s intellectual property is in the app?
  • What about apps that have a charge or in-app purchases?

How do we share?

  • Publish app details: description, icon, screen shots, accessibility, privacy and security, mobile-friendly & native apps, ratings (staff and faculty), description.