University of Newcastle to shift all workloads to AWS Cloud by 2020

The university will exit from its on-premise datacentre.

The University of Newcastle (UoN) has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in a decision to exit completely from its on-premise data centre and migrate to the AWS Cloud by September 2020.

According to UoN CIO Anthony Molinia, the university's cloud-first strategy was manifested from its digital strategic plan that was released in mid-July 2017.

"The cloud-first strategy is a principle that we adopted as a desire to transform and as a way to change the organisation not just from tooling perspective and what the cloud offers from a server, compute, and storage capacity, but also from an operating model perspective, as well as a new way of working to deliver value to the organisation," he told ZDNet.

Molinia added the decision for the migration was also prompted by demolition plans.

"There was always the intention to migrate to the cloud but the building in which the data centre resides in is where the Pam Collins precinct is being developed, so the building is being demolished. It provided us the impetuous to do it faster and realise the strategy quicker than what we originally planned," he said.

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As part of the strategy, corporate, student, and researcher workloads are being migrated. Molinia said the project is well underway and has been for the last 12 months. He noted how while there is still a year left until completion, the university is already reaping the benefits.

"[Moving to the cloud] showcases our ability to pivot and deliver that organisational and transformation change," he said.

"From a staffing perspective, it's given a new lease of life as it's adding more personal value to their capability and skill set.

"In addition, it means we have a clear focus on what applications we have, when they need to run, and that's what the consumption-based models forces us to focus on really running IT as business.

"Previously, you buy a server, install a computer and the app is built, and you don't water or treat it as much as you should. This puts it in line of sight because you need to make sure you're on top of the application and things remain current."

He touted how the university's decision to not build a new data centre will also have positive impacts on the environment.

"University of Newcastle wants to be known for its environmental sustainability position. One of the key factors is we're exiting a data centre. Part of that process is do you build another data centre or do you try something different, and that environmental sustainability value is featured in that decision making process," Molinia said.

Once the migration is completed, Molinia said the university would look to introduce new technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and facial recognition.

"It's going to help researchers deliver on their research outcomes much faster and also improve our ability to use data as an asset. There are huge amounts of opportunities not just from an emerging tech perspective, but also our ability to run the business more effectively," he said.

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