As stated on the University of Alaska (UA) System’s website, “Alaska presents a formidable landscape for a university system: a land mass one-fifth the size of the continental United States; campuses thousands of miles apart; and weather that would shut down most Lower 48 schools.” UA thrives in such a landscape, nurturing students and fulfilling the state’s needs for graduates who build a stronger Alaska.
The UA system has three main campuses (University of Alaska Anchorage [UAA], University of Alaska Fairbanks [UAF] and University of Alaska Southeast [UAS]) with over 30,000 full- and part-time students enrolled, studying hundreds of unique degree, certificate or endorsement programs. By virtue of these programs, UA contributes an estimated $1 billion annually to the Alaska economy.
Working with a reduced budget, UA continues 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 also mitigates power outages that impact those resources.
Proposed Future State
To assist UA in meeting its commitment to students, faculty, researchers and staff, the Statewide Office of Information Technology (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 Amazon Web Services (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. This engagement will provide a road map of which OIT services and resources to move to Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs). It will also identify staff training needed to support the shift to a cloud environment.
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.
Goals and Objectives
With the guidance of AWS consultants, specializing in IT Transformation, OIT will develop a cloud migration blueprint, defining scope, goals, schedule, project team, responsibilities and in-scope applications that are suitable for migration. This will enable OIT to decide which services and resources to move. Supporting the blueprint, OIT will collect data on current infrastructure, applications, dependencies, current support and costs. To manage the cloud environment, the consultants will also assist OIT in developing governance, people and cost models.
A migration jumpstart will provide a knowledge transfer, establishing the foundation required for a successful migration with practical hands-on experience. Based on that experience, the consultants will assist OIT in completing an application portfolio assessment, creating an in-depth understanding of the in-scope applications, grouping and prioritizing them for migration.
Also learning from the jumpstart experience, the consultants will assist OIT in creating an operating model. This model will integrate cloud governance, control, and management of processes with existing processes, requirements and tools for services management.
What Is Cloud Computing?
"Cloud computing is the on-demand delivery of IT resources and applications via the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing. Whether you run applications that share photos to millions of mobile users or you support the critical operations of your business, the cloud provides rapid access to flexible and low-cost IT resources. With cloud computing, you don’t need to make large upfront investments in hardware and spend a lot of time managing that hardware. Instead, you can provision exactly the right type and size of computing resources you need to power your newest bright idea or operate your IT department. With cloud computing, you can access as many resources as you need, almost instantly, and only pay for what you use."
"Cloud computing provides a simple way to access servers, storage, databases, and a broad set of application services over the Internet. Cloud computing providers such as AWS own and maintain the network-connected hardware required for these application services, while you provision and use what you need using a web application."
Six Advantages of Cloud Computing
"Trade capital expense for variable expense Instead of having to invest heavily in data centers and servers before you know how you’re going to use them, you can pay only when you consume computing resources, and pay only for how much you consume."
"Benefit from massive economies of scale By using cloud computing, you can achieve a lower variable cost than you can get on your own. Because usage from hundreds of thousands of customers is aggregated in the cloud, providers such as AWS can achieve higher economies of scale, which translates into lower pay as-you-go prices."
"Stop guessing about capacity Eliminate guessing on your infrastructure capacity needs. When you make a capacity decision prior to deploying an application, you often end up either sitting on expensive idle resources or dealing with limited capacity. With cloud computing, these problems go away. You can access as much or as little capacity as you need, and scale up and down as required with only a few minutes’ notice."
"Increase speed and agility In a cloud computing environment, new IT resources are only a click away, which means that you reduce the time to make those resources available to your developers from weeks to just minutes. This results in a dramatic increase in agility for the organization, since the cost and time it takes to experiment and develop is significantly lower."
"Stop spending money running and maintaining data centers Focus on projects that differentiate your business, not the infrastructure. Cloud computing lets you focus on your own customers, rather than on the heavy lifting of racking, stacking, and powering servers."
"Go global in minutes Easily deploy your application in multiple regions around the world with just a few clicks. This means you can provide lower latency and a better experience for your customers at minimal cost."