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Vision for Cloud Services

University IT will actively adopt cloud-based technologies selecting scalable, cost-efficient, innovative, and resilient solutions which further enable the Stanford community. University IT will assess migrating applications and infrastructure to the cloud, and using cloud-native services as appropriate.

University IT is developing a comprehensive plan for migrating applications and infrastructure to the cloud. While it is acknowledged that some critical systems will need to remain on campus, our priority is to achieve geodiversity using the cloud.

The shift to cloud services requires a transformation of University IT into a center of excellence in cloud practice.

Earthquake danger is real.

The quintessential disaster associated with the San Francisco Bay Area is earthquakes. Geo-diversity is a critical requirement for business continuity and disaster recovery plans that can enable Stanford to continue operating while protecting critical data assets.

Campus space is at a premium.

The first priority for this valuable space is in direct support of teaching, learning and research. Stanford's increased adoption of cloud services has accounted for the bulk of recent computing capacity growth.

Time to provision computing resources is expected to be quick.

While we have reduced the number of weeks/days to provision servers (virtual and physical), in many cases the client expects the provisioning to be nearly instantaneous. This can be accomplished in the cloud.

Cloud computing resources can easily scale.

These resources can scale up during critical business times and can scale down when not in use.

Service improvements are continuous.

New features and functionality are introduced more quickly and continuously with cloud vendors.

For many supporting the business functions of Stanford University, cloud-sourced software products (Software-as-a-Service — SaaS) already offer the best solutions and range of options available in the marketplace — with their rapidly improving capabilities, use of advanced technologies, and robust hosting services.

In addition, University IT will cloud-source enterprise computing resources and data storage capacity (Infrastructure-as-a-Service — IaaS and Platform-as-a-Service — PaaS) for a wide variety of services and applications which it deploys and manages. University IT will emphasize the integration of these products to best leverage these investments.

The current Business Affairs initiatives contain plans to enable increased operational efficiency, support priorities associated with campus-wide risk management strategies, and to improve client satisfaction with the provided administrative services. In many cases there are plans to introduce, upgrade or replace campus-wide administrative systems with cloud-sourced solutions. University IT’s role requires that we begin implementing our cloud strategy immediately given:

  • Lead time to transform University IT into a technology services organization with cloud expertise
  • Requirements to realize the benefits of cloud adoption as soon as possible
  • Expectations that University IT continue to provide leadership as a Stanford service provider
  • Existing staff have implemented many cloud-based services over the past several years, however, to better enable active participation in upcoming cloud projects and other opportunities, the University IT workforce needs more training in cloud technologies, skills, and roles
  • University IT tools and processes have not evolved with the new realities of cloud-based products and service management

The Cloud Strategy tasks University IT with the responsibility to regularly assess and review the entire University IT portfolio and provides approaches for the Stanford community to adopt principally cloud-based sourcing practices. This requires a fundamental refactoring of University IT as a service provider: service profiles, staff roles, processes, and policies. Orchestration of such a comprehensive change will require clear vision, strong governance, and thorough planning.

The purpose of the multi-year cloud initiatives is to systematically migrate or reimplement most of University IT’s service portfolio to be served from cloud providers. While there are several dimensions to the term “cloud providers,” for the purposes of the overall University IT cloud vision, it means Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or cloud providers used as a software or hosting platform (PaaS and IaaS).

The shift to enterprise cloud-sourcing is more than a technology change and entails concurrent organizational change efforts. The scope of necessary organization evolution spans the breadth of University IT’s service portfolio; e.g., staff development, policy definition, and business modeling.