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them to do all the testing,” he recalled. “In many instances, [those offices] did not have the resources for testing and we would find problems after the fact. It was a big pain. Because Workday is a single code base, the testing in some sense is crowdsourced and you can rely on the user community at large to share the testing.”
The shift to software-as-a-service also has an impact on the skill sets needed in the IT department. “Most of the work we do in Workday is driven by configuration and business process changes,” Ravishanker said. “As a result, the expertise we need to take advantage of the system is less technology and more functional expertise.”
UNH’s Battista agrees, adding that in defining a clear cloud migration strategy, institutions should review what roles are needed in the new process and who will fill them. He asserted that roles should be defined first, then people assigned to them, not the other way around. “Many higher education organizations say, ‘We have this set of people. What can we have them do?’ That is the wrong approach,” he said. “It is not about getting rid of people. You can repurpose people and maintain a steady-state cost and deliver more value. We can make ourselves more efficient, but we have to define the roles that are necessary and industry standard.”
He said many colleges and universities fail to ask the right questions about their organizational readiness to change. “You can’t just say let’s go to the cloud,” he said. If you want to migrate to the cloud, you have to plan it out, and have a
glide path. It could take one, three or five years, but no IT organization is going to react well if you say we are going to go there tomorrow, Battista said.
Battista also noted that adopting cloud services actually makes IT governance more rather than less important. Since it will be critical to review policies and put more formal structures in place when managing the cloud environment, organizations should focus on transparency and building partnerships with business units, he said.
Leaving the Walled Garden
The cloud has been an important aspect of the IT transformation at the California College of the Arts, a small art and design college located in the San Francisco Bay area. “The fact that we are small has made it easier for us to be forward-thinking and take a little risk,” said CIO Mara Hancock. “Our institution is accustomed to some risk; as designers and artists, that is part of their work.”
Like Wellesley, CCA has moved its ERP to Workday and uses Salesforce for student engagement activities. Hancock said these companies use application programming interfaces (APIs) and provide access to the data in ways that IT executives have come to expect in more modern technology. “There is an openness to thinking about things differently and engaging with their customers,” she said. “A lot of the old- school ERP companies are still hanging on to a ‘walled garden’ approach that is not going to last.”
For CCA’s cloud move, it was important to get buy-in from the college’s chief financial officer that the cloud strategy was the right one before proceeding, Hancock stressed.
The shift to the cloud means that Hancock spends more of her time focused on data integration, middleware and web services management, and it has led to more enjoyable and challenging work for her staff. “They can focus on the journey from prospective student all the way to alumni and build business processes to support that, instead of patching the ERP system or swapping out servers,” she said. “Now we can focus on functionality and the business process piece instead of back-end stuff that is not our core business. We shouldn’t be spending our time on that.”
Getting Out of the Data Center Business
For some CIOs, the cloud provides a lifeline out of a difficult situation and the promise of staying ahead of the curve as technological change accelerates. Bill Britton, vice president of information technology and CIO for California Polytechnic State University, said Cal Poly recently made the decision to get out of the data center business and migrate all its core applications to Amazon Web Services (AWS). He said that when he arrived on campus over two years ago, the university had not done a major refresh of the servers in its data center in seven years. “We did an analysis and a complete refresh of our data center would cost $8 million to $10 million just to bring us up to current standards — not even addressing what
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | August/September 2017

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