One thing that is incredibly fulfilling about being at Notre Dame is its core mission.  Attributed to Father Sorin, Notre Dame’s primary reason for existence is to be a “powerful force for good” in the world.  In keeping with that mission, we at #NDCloudFirst have done a couple of things to help spread the operational cloud knowledge we are acquiring.

Over the past year or so, we have shared our knowledge in person and via conference calls with our higher education colleagues in both public and private forums.  We’ve talked to over 20 schools, both nationally and internationally, about the work we are doing in this space.  That’s one of the things I really enjoy about working in higher ed IT – the overall level of sharing and inter-institutional collaboration.  Public or private, with or without a medical school, centralized or not, we face the universal constraint of being oversubscribed and facing an ever-increasing demand for services.  I relish the opportunity to share what we’ve learned so far with our colleagues, and it’s always fun to learn from them as they follow their own paths.

In the interests of leveling-up the regional knowledge of this space, we started the #INAWS Meetup.  It is an inclusive, public forum, and we welcome anyone who has an interest in sharing challenges and solving problems using AWS.  In concert with our friends from the City of South BendTrek 10, independent consultants, small business owners, representatives from local IT departments, and graduate students, we have had robust conversations.  We have explored ways in which to solve disparate challenges using AWS.

Our goal is simply an extension of Father Sorin’s – to educate and empower people to avail themselves of the world’s best infrastructure.  While AWS can seem initially intimidating to the uninitiated, it is remarkably approachable technology.  By adopting AWS, we believe that our regional businesses can experience overall IT service levels that used to exist only in fantasies.

Unencumbered by hardware concerns, our community can focus more energy on improving the quality of city services, building businesses, and fabricating products.

I am remarkably bullish on the future.  We at #NDCloudFirst are working diligently to improve IT services at Notre Dame.  I look forward to continuing to learn and share with our colleagues throughout the region, nation, and world.

Positive Trajectory

Bob and I did a brief update on where the OIT is in terms of cloud strategy and the progress we have made with our IaaS provider of choice, Amazon Web Services.  It was essentially a highly summarized, non-technical version of the presentation we gave in D.C. earlier this year.

The most interesting thing that came out of the update was a follow-on conversation with one of the non-technical users on campus.  This person was not aware of the implications of moving Conductor and its associated sites to AWS.  We explained that her departmental website is a Conductor site, and as such, she is directly benefiting from the improved performance and availability.

It was in the context of this conversation that the beauty of what we are doing struck me.  Functionally, end users should not even realize that the infrastructure running their web presence or line of business applications has transitioned to AWS.  If well-executed, these users should continue to be oblivious to the changes being made, on their behalf and in their best interest.

The fact this person had no realization that anything changed is a testament to our success to date, because as stated previously, the performance essentially doubled for roughly half the cost.  All in the best interest of the University, allowing us to focus our efforts on initiatives which are core to the institutional mission.

Very, very excited about what is to come.