University of Maryland University College (UMUC) has reduced its physical IT infrastructure by almost 97 percent in the past three years–fully embracing cloud in order to accomplish this goal.

The university has decreased its hardware from 1,500 pieces to fewer than 100 currently.

“We’ve used unified network monitoring throughout the process to make the transition easier, and to improve network performance,” wrote Greg Smith, associate vice president, enterprise operations, UMUC.

UMUC is the largest public online university in the United States, serving more than 84,000 students worldwide, but its systems were separated into five data centers.

“The decentralized operations meant we had five different network monitoring systems,” wrote Smith. “None gave us a full view of our network’s health.”

The IT teams decided on a unified IT monitoring and management approach, then had to migrate to the cloud.

“For the first time ever, we were able to understand what was communicating and interacting on various machines across all our locations,” said Smith. Unified monitoring provides visibility into their network–which systems are working well and which systems are not.

When moving to the cloud, Smith offers advice to institutions:

  • Be comfortable with the application, and that it will scale to your needs.
  • Consider Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS requires less knowledge of the inner workings of the application, and does not require dedicated resources for training.
  • Get buy-in. In academia, management directives don’t always go over well. Have a team member on your side so that the decision has grass-roots acceptance.

Adopting cloud allowed UMUC to substantially reduce its use of physical IT infrastructure and use the cloud for redundant and scalable servers.

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MeriTalk Staff