Last updated on May 26th, 2023 at 10:54am
Last month, we had the opportunity to speak at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Denver, CO. Our VP of Delivery and Support, Randy Shore, presented, “Your Cloud: A Well-Managed Ranch or the Wild, Wild West?” alongside Tim Champ, Assistant Director of Research and Enterprise Computing in the Division of IT at UMBC and Andrew Marcontell, Executive Director of Solutions Engineering at Texas A&M University.
Here are some key timestamps - and a few highlights from our panel session. Scroll down to check out the full replay.
1:06 - Intro to UMBC
2:47 - UMBC’s cloud journey
“We had some real issues upfront with trying to understand how to move the things we were doing, the way we were doing them, into the cloud, and realized real quick that some of that just wasn’t going to work. [We wanted to figure out] how do we make processes that take some of these applications and services that we’re providing and actually make them work in a cloud-efficient way?”
4:11 - Intro to Texas A&M
5:44 - Texas A&M’s cloud journey
“We heard cloud-first strategies and postures and we consciously decided that we were not going to use that term. We would say automation first and cloud-agnostic, so that led to a decision very early on in 2020 to do a multi-cloud strategy, and in that respect, we didn’t start a centralized cloud strategy at Texas A&M until COVID.”
8:30 - Intro to Kion
9:48 - IT Responsibilities for Texas A&M
“We were decentralized when I arrived ... and it required us to think about how we were going to deliver cloud in that environment. We wanted to provide a service that people would want to use.”
12:35 - IT Responsibilities for UMBC
“We have a very centralized IT infrastructure. While we do have a number of colleges on campus, the research IT side of it is either, you have the occasional faculty member who might have their own grant and they want to do things their own way, but we’ve really tried to work hard, whether it’s through high-performance computing or through using the cloud-related item that we have and say, ‘here’s why we can give you a better level of support than what you can do with the money you have on your own.’”
20:00 - The value add with Kion
"Kion provided an enhancement to [AWS Control Tower's] organizational structure in addition to the organizational units that we use in AWS for compliance security data classifications...We needed to overlay that with our business structure and therefore we needed to add budgets, and Kion does that.”
22:01 - Cloud costs and financials
“In general, our problem has been less about costs not being able to be understood and more about trying to maintain and not have that constant water faucet always on.”
29:40 - What are you doing to be more the well-managed ranch and less the wild wild west?
“My colleagues at A&M who started the Star program, they've given us a good model. Fences are required; otherwise the herds go off and trample other things, and they don’t mean to, but they don’t know any better. So to a certain degree, I have to be a shepherd or parent, a custodian of the assets that we manage under our portfolio and therefore, we’ve got to start putting up guard rails. So the ranch model is applicable because it’s in the best interest of both parties [Andrew's department and the department's customers]. Part of that is communication but [also] having purposeful engagements … the work is never done.”
34:15 - If I knew then what I know now ....
“Upfront, try to engage with the training platforms [cloud provided or third party] … [and] continue to encourage people to take the time to learn.”
"I would start with [an] outreach program first, and then demonstrate through specific outcomes because that’s how you get buy-in.”
41:59 - Have you had to hire subject matter experts in each cloud?
“I’ve slowly but surely picked people who have had core competencies. It might be Azure or some element of security …, so I’ve slowly started to augment the team for specialties with their core competencies but we expect them all to understand the framework of what we’re doing which is automation first, cloud agnostic.”
In addition to our panel session, Randy also sat down with Stephen Ladek, host of the eLearn Podcast, and discussed Kion’s higher ed initiatives. You can watch his session starting at 1:41.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at EDUCAUSE this year and the opportunity to also meet up with several of the Internet2 members who participated in our NET+ evaluation.
For a deeper dive into how Kion can help your institution, check out our recent white paper on facilitating cloud adoption for education and research.