Get Us To The Cloud On Time

John M. Ellinger, CIO, Bowling Green State University
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John M. Ellinger, CIO, Bowling Green State University

Three years ago Bowling Green State University (BGSU) initiated two strategies: first –migrating as many applications and systems to the cloud and second -giving preference to open source applications.

As a medium size university BGSU does not have the large source of funds to pay for the staffing, infrastructure or systems that are needed to do our job as well as possible. There are three pain points we have been dealing with – finding and hiring qualified staff, supporting a data center with high reliability and the ever increasing costs for propriety software. Our IT business support model has to change! BGSU is blessed to have a great IT staff! Bowling Green, Ohio is a great community and supports our University all of the time but Bowling Green is not a destination for new IT staff. We have not been as successful as we would like in hiring qualified staff as retirements and losses to other opportunities have occurred. We have tried head hunters, outsourcing firms and even LinkedIn with little or no success. We have differentiated our salary scales for IT staff to increase our initial hiring salaries. We have started a “grow your own” program using our Computer Science graduates. In spite of all of these efforts we still have many “single points of failure” on our IT staff.

Our current data center is a sub Tier 1 with many known weaknesses. We cannot afford to renovate or build a highly reliable Tier 3 data center. With the use of VM, tiered storage and moving current on premise applications to the cloud – we have reduced our on campus computer rack requirements to a minimum. Ohio is blessed to have OAR net as our statewide 100 gig network system. With this high speed network and the changes we are making, we will be able to move into a commercial data center in Garfield Heights, Ohio with Tier 3 reliability. We will return 4700 square feet of central campus space to academic purposes, always a positive good will gesture!

As new user application requests come in or as we have to upgrade old systems we are asking ourselves the following question. How can use open source and/ or clouded based systems to fulfill the new request or replace the old system? We are giving preferential treatment to
systems that use Open Source. 60% of all of our applications are currently in the cloud. 40% of our applications are now open source. We are reducing our costs following this process.

The final major deliverable for us is moving our People Soft ERP in to the cloud either as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS). We have decided to keep this proprietary software through 2020 to make the most of our initial investment. This choice will not be easy for us but this is doable. When PeopleSoft is in the cloud we will have 90% of our applications and systems in the cloud. Our target date is 2016.

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