4 Projects

Matt in Milan

In order to focus our energy on understanding the toolset that Amazon Web Services presents, we are focusing on four specific initiatives in the first quarter of 2014.  These include:

  • AAA High Availability for Cloud Services, which will remove the campus dependency for off-campus users accessing SaaS services, including Box, Google, Innotas, Concur among others.
  • Backups, which will allow us to explore the feasibility of using a combination of S3 and Glacier for backups.
  • ModoLabs, which will host the campus mobile application and is not tightly coupled to existing campus services.
  • Conductor, which entails moving from an existing hosting provider to Amazon Web Services.  For perspective, Conductor hosts more than 360 of the University’s websites, including oit.nd.edu.  For monthly statistics about Conductor’s usage, refer to the nd.edu blog.

Each of these four projects will deliver value to Notre Dame and the students, faculty, and staff whom we serve.  These projects will also serve as the vehicle through which our operational cloud model, leveraging Amazon Web Services, gets defined.

In a governance working session this afternoon, we made progress on defining the standards for tagging machine instances.  As we approach the holiday break, we look forward to resting, reflecting, and returning, energized to make tremendous strides in 2014.




This morning was the first meeting of the minds to work through how we establish governance in light of our growing use of Amazon.  This morning, Brandon lead a healthy dialogue with Bob Winding, Bob Richman, Derek Owens, Eric Schubert, Jaime Preciado-Beas, Shane Creech, Mike Anderson, Chris Fruehwirth, Milind Saraph, John Pozivilko, Christopher Frederick covering topics including:

  • Managing Infrastructure – how will we manage Virtual Private Clouds
  • Security Groups – how they will be set up, who will define the policy, and who will perform the implementation work
  • Account Management – How we will construct policy and process for roles in Amazon, multi-factor authentication
  • Key Management – How we will construct policy and process around key management
  • Multitenancy – How we will approach mapping applications to virtual machines
  • Version Control – As we migrate towards software-defined everything, where will we centralize the version control of configuration and code items

Working groups formed and will start working on addressing these issues, and the group will be meeting on a bi-weekly basis as we work to acquire knowledge and operational fluency.



Focus.  It is such a remarkably productive state.  We have all experienced it as individuals, the Zen moments of super-productivity when you are completely, 100% focused on accomplishing a given task.  Societally, we recognize the perils of focus dilution as texting while driving becomes increasingly legislated.

After last week’s workshop, we have seen a groundswell of excitement and activity around both Amazon as an IaaS provider and DevOps as a way of operating.  The surest path to organizational success is to focus on delivering the greatest value to Notre Dame.  As identified in this blog post, the greatest target of opportunity has to do with understanding the potential of the Storage Gateway.  To realize that benefit, we need to focus.

Focus on understanding the capabilities.

Focus on understanding the frequency.

Focus on understanding restoration urgency.

Focus on understanding the cost.

Focus, focus, focus.

Appropriately enough, Ford’s entry into the World Touring Car Championship is a Focus.  Take some time out of your evening and watch this clip, then reflect and comment on how focus applies.

Rearview mirrors

In 1911, Ray Harroun entered a car in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 automobile race.MarmonWasp

Though primitive by today’s standards (the car averaged roughly 75 mph over the course of the 500 mile race), it was a massively controversial vehicle in its day.


Because it was the first car in history to be equipped with a rearview mirror.  This put Mr. Harroun at a considerable advantage, because his car was the only one that did not have a passenger mechanic on board.  Eliminating an onboard mechanic represented a significant weight savings, which Harroun used to his advantage, winning the race by just over half a mile.

Three years later, automobile manufacturers started putting review mirrors on cars available to the public.

Since then, racing has continued to improve the breed.  In 1961, Giotti Bizzarrini combined his engineering talent with Piero Drogo, a car body specialist.  Enbracing Kammback design, the result of their creation was a very unique looking Ferrari racing car.  The long tail section of the car minimized air resistance, allowing for higher speeds.


In 2011, Toyota introduced the first widely-available hybrid electric car, aimed at the mass market.  Look closely at the profile, and you will see echoes of the Kammback principle.  Instead of winning races, the slippery aerodynamics help the Prius compete against the wind in order to deliver more miles per gallon.


Today, there are many pieces of automotive technologies so mundane to us that we take them for granted.  Anti-lock brakes.  Disc brakes.  Rearview mirrors.  How many of us drive cars without rearview mirrors?

Step back and look at the infrastructure as a service landscape.  Private industry is our race team.  They are working constantly, pouring effort, energy, and capital into improving the breed.  We are the fortunate auto manufacturer on the receiving end of the trickle-down effect.  Technologies that we fantasized about twenty years ago are available at our fingertips.

Though cutting edge for higher education, adopting IaaS and DevOps has proven its mettle in the stiffest competition.  Let us step forward confidently and learn from our racing team, figuring out how to operationalize the use of these technologies in our environment.

And for those of you interested in learning more about technologies that we take for granted whose roots are in racing, please explore this interesting article.

AWS Governance

Jason Williams and Jaime Preciado-Beas did a great job on the security assessment of our current deployment of nd.edu in Amazon. As discussed in day 2 of the workshop, this document will serve as a great starting point to flesh out our governance structure with respect to AWS. Let’s use it as a guide as we deploy new projects. Governance is critical to our long term success in leveraging AWS, so we need to advance and refine it with each project. Let the projects begin!