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Frequently Asked Questions about Cloud Transformation

Where can I learn more about UIT's cloud strategy, including how UIT safeguards Stanford data that is shared with cloud providers?

Visit Q&As About Cloud Solutions to learn more about UIT's cloud strategy and data privacy safeguards.

Who is in charge of the UIT Cloud Program and who is most affected?

The Office of the CIO has charged University IT (UIT) with the responsibility to regularly assess and review all of the systems and services it provides to the Stanford community with an eye toward using cloud solutions, and to provide approaches for others Stanford’s community — including schools and departments and their local support teams — to confidently adopt a cloud-preferred stance when seeking IT solutions beyond what UIT provides.

How long will it take for the cloud vision to be implemented?

The cloud vision describes transition activities planned for the next three years.

I’ve read that cloud computing has been around for many years. What do you mean by “the cloud” today?

Cloud computing, often referred to as simply “the cloud,” is the delivery of on-demand computing resources—everything from applications to data centers—over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis.* Most commonly, it takes the form of consumer software delivered in a cloud-hosted way.

*Definition from IBM Cloud website.

What is a “cloud provider?”

A cloud provider is a company that offers computing resources and/or software completely via the internet; that delivers a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution, such as Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Education), or a hosting platform or environment for systems and services that a customer like Stanford runs on their own premises (Platform-as-a-Service — PaaS, or Infrastructure-as-a-Service — IaaS).

Which cloud infrastructure providers are current and likely to be future vendor-partners with Stanford? How solid is their reputation and how likely are they to endure?

The O-CIO made the decision for UIT that, at this time, our primary focus should be on one primary IaaS vendor, in order to be able to focus UIT resources and attention on developing expertise in a single set of technologies and solutions.

With that background, Amazon (AWS - Amazon Web Services) is the strategic primary IaaS vendor for UIT's core infrastructure and applications.

Google Cloud Platform currently is being used as needed for clients who have requirements for which GCP is a better fit, such as activities requiring PHI, and some research computing.

How does “geo-diversity” and moving to the cloud help us with business continuity and disaster recovery?

Cloud solutions that are geo-diverse aren’t just located off-campus — they’re located at numerous remote data centers, all far away from Stanford, the Bay Area, even California...and from each other. And with well designed services, if one resource fails another kicks in automatically. (Add disaster recovery to response).

How does moving to the cloud help Stanford and UIT use space more wisely?

The computing needs and ideas generated at Stanford are larger than we could possibly host on campus. Why should we arbitrarily limit our capacity by restricting ourselves to the small space available within an 8,200 acre site? Geo-diverse, on-demand remote data centers—a core feature of cloud computing—enable us to respond flexibly to needs for computing capacity, freeing up campus real estate as needed.

How does moving to the cloud help UIT respond more quickly to computing community requests?

Here’s an example: Where we’re using AWS cloud hosting today, UIT is able to accommodate demands for additional capacity quickly (and even automatically, where set up to do so), deploying dozens of servers across multiple geo-diverse data centers in just a few minutes. Stanford’s computing infrastructure is impressive compared to our peers, but cloud data centers are larger by orders of magnitude and so enable quicker and more cost-effective provisioning.

How does moving to the cloud help UIT to continuously improve the the services it provides to the Stanford community?

In general, Stanford’s cloud partners roll out improvements to their services (MS Office 365, G Suite, Box, etc.) more often than we can for campus offerings, and without a need to bring systems down or schedule service outages. (Their maintenance and development teams are far larger, after all.) By handing over the burden of updates to cloud providers, we can shift our focus from operating the services to integrating the services for Stanford’s specific needs. All of this also means we’ll get to work more directly with the students, faculty, and staff who use the services, and assure their satisfaction with them.

More questions?

If you have a question not answered here, send a note to the UIT Cardinal Cloud team.

Frequently Asked Questions — UIT (internal)

Last modified April 14, 2023