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I&O makes cloud advances

As part of ITS’ organization-wide efforts to pursue opportunities with cloud technologies, ITS Infrastructure & Operations made significant strides toward the cloud over the past year.

Among its cloud-focused work, the I&O division:

  • Established a team to shepherd the organization’s cloud engineering and services
  • On behalf of ITS, joined other universities and corporations in a partnership to further cultivate the proper use and security of cloud computing technologies at Carolina
  • Provided training and professional development to staff and campus IT leaders
  • Contributed significantly to the launch of ServiceNow, a cloud-hosted system that serves as the University’s new primary ticketing software
  • Contributed to implementing the enterprise Tableau platform in Amazon Web Services

Established cloud team

In April 2019, I&O formed a cloud group to centrally facilitate safe and optimal implementations of University IT infrastructure, platforms and services in the public cloud — including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

Informally known as the ITS cloud group, the unit is comprised of two groups. The cloud engineering team consists of Brent Caison, Stephen Braswell and John Godehn. The cloud operations team is made up of Chuck Crews, Patrick Murphy and Bruce Messick. The operations team currently has one open position and is actively interviewing qualified candidates.

Joined cloud foundation

In Spring 2019, through I&O’s leadership, UNC-Chapel Hill became a founding member of the RHEDcloud Foundation, along with 14 other universities and corporations.

John Mack
John Mack

RHEDcloud Foundation stands for Research, Healthcare and Higher Education Cloud Foundation.

The nonprofit launched to kick off an open-source project for collaborating on cloud security requirements and implementations for Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

“It is exciting for UNC-Chapel Hill ITS to participate in this (RHEDcloud) ecosystem as a contributor, partner and licensed owner of any cloud development work,” said John Mack, Assistant Vice Chancellor for ITS Infrastructure & Operations. “Our team is rapidly maturing and expanding its knowledge about cloud technologies and available solutions. By working within a community of practice, we will naturally develop expertise for effective delivery of next-generation of IT services at UNC-Chapel Hill.”

Mack serves on the foundation’s Board of Directors. ITS staff members Brent Caison, Ethan Kromhout, Stephen Braswell, John Godehn and Chuck Crews are participating in the foundation’s work.

Offered cloud training

With a desire to ensure that campus IT leaders will be prepared to participate in cloud-based technology, I&O organized cloud essentials training for four days in June 2019 for ITS leaders and members of the Information Technology Executive Council (ITEC). About 30 people from schools, departments and centers across campus attended.

I&O offered this training to help IT leaders on campus gain a common level of cloud terminology as they consider cloud options that ITS can support.

Attendees gained an overall understanding of cloud computing, what cloud has to offer and how it differs from traditional development and on-premise administration, and how to build solutions in the cloud. They also learned about cloud security, migration strategies, and the big three public cloud providers.

Helped launch ServiceNow

Brenda Carpen
Brenda Carpen

I&O played a large role in ITS’ July 2019 launch of cloud-based ServiceNow.

As a cloud-based platform, ServiceNow offers several advantages for ITS and its customers. For ITS, it means that the department does not have to purchase, build or maintain the infrastructure to run the ServiceNow application.

“We get all the new enhancements that ServiceNow releases each time we upgrade,” said Brenda Carpen, Project Lead for ServiceNow and an ITS project manager. “All of this saves us time to focus on providing services and changes that are unique to our campus users.

Meanwhile, a cloud-based platform provides campus users with the ability to chat with the ServiceDesk, enter incidents, requests, and search for knowledge articles from any device and from any place.

Contributed to Tableau effort

I&O participated in ITS’ efforts to help the University make the enterprise Tableau platform available to campus via Amazon Web Services. Since enterprise Tableau was offered to Carolina in July 2019, numerous campus units have begun their migration to the enterprise platform.

Tableau enables collaboration between departments in the form of data sharing. University data can be validated by the departments that own it and then they can certify that data for other groups to use.

“This is just the beginning of our cloud journey,” Mack said. “We are still learning how to best leverage and advise on cloud resource capabilities. I&O is currently assisting University Libraries and SILS with their respective cloud initiatives. Partnerships like these will help us to learn more about the needs of the academic units at Carolina.”

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