Office of Information Technology

News and Events

Get Your Head in the Cloud

The University of Alaska (UA), Office of Information Technology (OIT), entered into a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to develop a cloud services roadmap and begin transitioning to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). To celebrate the partnership, Karl Kowalski, Chief Information Technology Officer, UA OIT, welcomed a packed Butrovich Suite 109 to the inaugural kick-off event. The event was held May 3, 2016, from 8:30 - 10:00 AM. Attendees were from OIT and the research computing community.

Karl presented our vision for UA. Working with a reduced budget, UA will continue to be Alaska’s institution of higher education and research, granting academic degrees and providing resources to students across a vast frontier. Persevering through extreme landscape and weather, UA will mitigate power outages that impact those resources. To assist UA in meeting its commitment to students, faculty, researchers and staff, the OIT can replace up-front capital infrastructure expenses and significant utility costs (power and cooling) with competitively priced variable cost cloud computing.

Cloud computing provides a way to access servers, storage, databases, and a broad set of application services over the Internet. Because usage from hundreds of thousands of customers is aggregated, a provider, such as AWS, can achieve higher economies of scale, which translates into anticipated lower pay as-you-go prices.

In addition to reducing costs, OIT can eliminate maintaining an infrastructure that supports high capacity, dynamic computing loads 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days year. When UA doesn’t need the high peak capacity, which is much of the year, we end up with expensive idle resources. With cloud computing, the provider owns and maintains the network-connected hardware required for application services. While OIT would provision and UA use only what is needed when it is needed, the provider services, maintains and upgrades the hardware. Such an environment increases agility, so that institutions can focus on services, not infrastructure. Cloud computing does away with the heavy lifting of racking, stacking, powering servers or reestablishing power to servers. The power outages that happen in Alaska do not have to interrupt students and researchers.

Creating University of Alaska's Future Cloud First

Karl summarized the vision of "Creating University of Alaska's Future Cloud First". We need what the Cloud offers to meet growing demands for IT services while funding and staffing decline. We must find new ways to excel in delivering robust and flexible IT services.

He outlined how we will take IT to the Cloud by defining the 4 paths for a service. The Software as a Service (SaaS) path is where one uses a commodity solution, such as Google Apps, to maximize time spent on addressing business needs, such as productivity and collaboration through email and calendaring. The Platform as a Service (PaaS) path is better suited for business development. A PaaS example would be SalesForce, a CRM platform that people can access entirely over the Internet — there’s no infrastructure to buy, set up, or manage — you just log in and get to work. AWS fulfills the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) path where hardware systems are created and managed in the Cloud. Some services will remain on the On-Premise path where the hardware and software are maintained locally due to licensing and compliance requirements.

Karl summarized the vision by stating that we will meet our goal of IT service excellence by having 80% of UA's IT services in the Cloud by December 31, 2018. Well onto fulfilling the vision, UA already has more than 45% of IT services in the Cloud.

After presenting the vision, Karl introduced Michael Droe, Senior Transformation Consultant, AWS, World-wide Public Sector Professional Services. Michael presented the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) and the UA-IT Transformation Blueprint. The AWS CAF organizes and describes the perspectives in planning, creating, managing, and supporting a modern IT service. It offers practical guidance and comprehensive guidelines for establishing, developing and running AWS cloud-enabled environments. It provides a structure where business and IT can work together towards common strategy and vision, supported by modern IT automation and process optimization.

There are Seven Cloud Adoption Framework Core Perspectives.

Business Perspective
Identifying, delivering, and measuring business impact using architectural approaches that align technical delivery to business imperatives.

Platform Perspective
Represents the technology services of the AWS cloud platform. Provides patterns, guidance, and tools for optimal use of the technology services and services to implement.

Maturity Perspective
Defining the target state architecture of the organization and creating the required blueprints and roadmaps.

People Perspective
Defining and acquiring the skills needed to adopt the AWS cloud platform. Examples guidance include role descriptions, training, certification and mentoring.

Process Perspective
Managing portfolios, programs and projects to deliver expected business outcome on time and within budget, while keeping risks at acceptable levels.

Security Perspective
Defining and implementing the required levels of security, governance, and risk management to achieve compliance.

Operations Perspective
Represents the ongoing management of the functioning IT environment of AWS. Provides process, guidance and tools for optimum operational service management of the AWS environment.

In closing, Michael welcomed input to the perspective discovery sessions that follow the kick-off. Business, Maturity, Platform, People and Operations sessions were conducted throughout the kick-off week. Two others, Security and Process are to be scheduled soon. Stay tuned to this website's News & Events to learn and read more about those sessions and to be part of the cloud transformation.

Back to Top