Building our Future in the Cloud

WashU IT is making significant efforts to adopt cloud-based software, platforms, and infrastructure in keeping with our “Appropriate Solutions Approach” guiding principle. Adopting cloud-based software and services will allow us to continue to streamline collaboration with peer institutions, stay up-to date with the latest developments and trends in IT, build more resilient services, and reduce the need for on-campus data storage. In an industry where rapid innovation is king, cloud-based services allow WashU IT to modernize the enterprise systems our institution relies upon, while ensuring that our efforts position us well to provide the tools and services our university needs to continue our quest for discovery, innovation, and education into the foreseeable future.

WashU IT’s Manager of IT Cloud, John Bailey, has been hard at work preparing WashU for the future of cloud enabled software, platforms, and infrastructure. We sat down with John to ask him a few questions about what we’ve done so far and where we’re headed.

What is our cloud strategy?

Washington University in St. Louis will adopt a hybrid cloud strategy that is ‘cloud first’ for software and ‘cloud preferred’ for IT platforms and infrastructure.

How has it evolved?

The strategy has evolved from being a WashU IT strategy, to being a Washington University strategy.  Also, it has evolved from focusing on specific technologies to a broader strategy that provides an overall approach to the wealth of cloud technologies that are available today.

How did we settle on this strategy?

This strategy was developed by gathering cloud strategy examples from peer institutions, gathering industry resources from partners such as Gartner, soliciting feedback from IT leadership at Washington University, and soliciting further feedback from the IT community at WashU.

Are there any surprising or exciting opportunities available to the WashU community as a result of our cloud strategy?

The cloud strategy paves the way for IT staff to become involved in small and large-scale projects that will migrate tools and services to the cloud.  It also provides WashU IT customers access to a broader set of technologies and improved service levels.

What do you see in the future for cloud resources? 

Many critical IT services will be replaced by cloud-based software that provides a simpler and more responsive experience for our customers.  Additionally, the wealth of new cloud-based services available will allow our campus community to more effectively meet the challenges of providing world-class teaching, research, and clinical care.

Is there anything you think our community should be aware of, so they’re prepared to function and thrive in an increasingly cloud-based world?

Because the pace of innovation in cloud computing is so rapid, I would encourage the Washington University community to grow accustomed to IT systems and services changing on an ongoing and incremental basis.  This is in contrast to what WashU has been accustomed to in the past where IT systems experienced large, major updates every 1-3 years.