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University CIO calls on cloud phone service

Clint Boulton | April 10, 2017
Georgetown University’s move to the cloud comes as part of a telecommunications strategy shift aimed at lowering costs while embracing technologies for its digital shift.


The big(ger) picture

Overhauling telco systems is a large piece of a broader strategy the institution has embarked on to transform business process workflows and modernize the institution’s technology. Under this shift, initiated by Nicholson’s predecessor Lisa Davis in 2012, Georgetown added a customer relationship management (CRM) system from, human capital management software from Workday, and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities from Mendix.

Nicholson says the CRM system, along with a data analytics system from Blackboard, should help Georgetown’s “advancement” campaigns, which includes collecting and analyzing data to help promote the institution to prospective students, secure financial support from potential donors and cultivate support from alumni to foster relationships with current students. Georgetown will also use analytics to improve undergraduate and graduate students’ experience.

In line with the strategy to modernize computing infrastructure while lowering costs, Nicholson is also building a hybrid cloud environment. This entails moving servers and storage from a primary data center to an Equinix co-location facility in Ashburn, Va.

The co-lo system will connect Georgetown’s on-premises systems to Amazon Web Services, which provides burst computing capabilities, backup, disaster recovery and business continuity, as well as Google, Workday, and other cloud vendors. Georgetown expects to complete the hybrid cloud migration by 2020.

“We can’t afford to operate and on-premises data center and make investments in storage and compute for research,” Nicholson says. “With this [hybrid cloud] architecture we can have limited high-performance compute on-premises and scale infinitely in AWS.”


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