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Today Barry, Kevin, Leslie, Susan, Kevin, Tim and Erik got together for a webinar on how to approach cloud computing decisions. The speaker – Theresa Rowe had a background in IT management at the University/organizational level and discussed her approach in supporting shifts to cloud computing.

Theresa discussed three factors including cost savings, service agility and resource availability that she uses to evaluate whether or not an application is appropriate for clouding.

The QnA session started with the question “What would you rank as the top applications that you could move to the cloud?”

  1. Things that are commodity services such as email and backup (storage). These are things that the vendors can do with lots of resources while individual organizations do not benefit from this scale (think Gmail)
  2. Recruitment systems such as admissions and job. These systems gather a lot of data and tend to cycle through in a short term. Here again, the vendor benefits from economies of scale.
  3. Solutions that add value to departments – niche hosting solutions around athletics (concussion tracking? (really?))
  4. Learning management systems – These prove to be more challenging because outsourcing does not make organization more agile or responsive, up-time is not impacted, cost savings is not realized.
  5. Library management systems – Theresa viewed this as an option given the ability to save cost, provide more agile services and match available resources.

The question time turned to the idea of “individualized computing selection.” Theresa indicated that as an IT organization they found benefit in helping individuals purchase compatible equipment and that this is an example of how IT organizations are starting to take on more consulting roles and often find themselves in a hands-off mode.

Another aspect of this shift is identifying service delivery and monitoring standards that you expect external vendors to adhere to. This webinar was very timely as we continue to work on similar issues with moving data to cloud-based and hosted systems and as we seek new ways to partner with IS to ensure that our systems and data continue to work well.