Change Is Afoot: Developing an Institutional Cloud Strategy

min read

The EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Program helps institutions address the challenges and opportunities associated with defining and maximizing the value of enterprise IT services to the institution. We are examining four themes in 2016: effective sourcing strategies, analytics and business intelligence, business process management, and understanding and defining costs and funding. As we develop resources for each theme, you will be able to find them on the Enterprise IT Program website.

The first theme to be addressed is effective sourcing strategies. A link from the Enterprise IT Program page will take you to the sourcing strategies web page. It contains a set of resources and information designed to help you plan your cloud strategy, including a new set of case studies from four institutions of varying types and sizes that describe their experiences and the lessons they learned through the development of their cloud strategies.

Higher education enterprise IT is undergoing a transition, moving away from managing technologies and infrastructure and toward managing services and contracts. Developing an effective cloud strategy will help the institution take advantage of the opportunities this transition creates and mitigate the inherent challenges.

Resources may need to shift as a strategy is implemented. Vendor management and negotiation skills will be needed for managing the increase in contractual relationships. Enterprise architecture and data integration skills may become more important for planning and integrating cloud and on-premises data. Budgets and funding may need to change to allow for periodic subscription-like payments instead of the one-time funding that new enterprise systems require.

This shift in resources is unlikely to reduce costs in the short term. However, a cloud strategy offers other immediate benefits that create efficiencies and open doors for a broader future, allowing institutions to improve their service offerings. The capacity, resilience, agility, speed, and scalability associated with cloud technologies offer a level of service that most institutions are not able to provide on their own.

This shift in focus creates an opportunity for IT to change its relationship with the rest of the institution and to move into a stronger partnership role. IT has always functioned best when it is deeply engaged with the institution. Implementing a cloud strategy creates an even stronger imperative for IT leaders to align their work with functional areas across the institution to better understand goals and priorities so they can shape services to help the institution achieve those goals.

The sourcing strategies web page provides access to a set of relevant materials to help you build and implement your cloud strategy, including case studies that show there is no one right way to develop and implement these strategies. However, there are approaches that are important to consider across all strategies, including strong governance, effective communication, a focus on security and risk management, and a reimagining of the work of IT to better support the business of the institution.

We invite you to take a look at these new resources. Let us know if they're helpful. Send us your questions and your suggestions for improving them by contacting [email protected].

Betsy Tippens Reinitz is the director of enterprise IT programs at EDUCAUSE.

© Betsy Tippens Reinitz. The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.