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How higher ed IT is staying ahead of the cloud computing curve

Bob Brown | Oct. 21, 2015
Signs that cloud computing is for real are piling up around Carnegie Mellon University’s Tom Dugas, but perhaps nothing else brings this home like the fact that the renowned Pittsburgh research school has posted a job opening for its first-ever cloud architect.

tom dugas cmu
Tom Dugas, Carnegie Mellon University's associate director for client operations and a cloud computing mover and shaker within the world of Higher Education IT.
Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

Signs that cloud computing is for real are piling up around Carnegie Mellon University’s Tom Dugas, but nothing else brings this home like the fact that the renowned Pittsburgh research school has posted a job opening for its first-ever cloud architect.

“Most higher education IT leaders are starting to assign an individual person to be cloud architect or point person for cloud technology,” says CMU’s associate director for client operations.

Dugas (@TomDugas) anticipates that the topic of IT organization transformation will be among many cloud-related issues up for discussion at next week’s annual EDUCAUSE conference in Indianapolis, where he will be wearing multiple hats, including that of co-lead for the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Cloud Working Group. That working group of the big nonprofit for higher education IT leaders has begun crafting a series of papers that will be released more widely in coming months on topics such as “Developing Cloud-Aware Governance” and “Building a Migration Plan.”

Dugas, who also serves as co-lead for Internet2’s Cloud Services Working Group, describes CMU itself as “an opportunistic cloud organization” in that it uses cloud computing on a case-by-case basis. Among those use cases: Human resources. CMU uses Workday’s cloud offerings.

“A lot of people would say it’s risky putting human resources and human capital management in the cloud, but for us it was the right decision at the right time… given the way our homegrown HR system had been for 20 years,” Dugas says. “Workday has really changed the whole tone of the way cloud services are being operated at enterprise levels. People in higher education feel more comfortable now that places like Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown and others have adopted it.”

Higher ed IT is also embracing cloud offerings from those such as Box and Amazon Web Services (via a third-party outfit) that have struck deals with the Internet2 consortium. Validation of federated identity via Internet2 has been a key selling point, Dugas says.

Though Dugas says all eyes in higher ed IT are really on the University of Notre Dame, which has adopted a bold Cloud First approach under which it plans to move 80% of its IT services into the cloud by the end of 2017.

And many corporate IT eyes are on higher ed IT in general, Dugas says, when it comes to cloud.

 

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