What to move when: How to size up each application and develop a plan

What to move when: How to size up each application and develop a plan

By Jeff Ralyea on Tuesday, September 12, 2017


“By 2020, a university/college “no-cloud” policy will be as rare as a “no internet” policy is today.”—Gartner

Like most industries, higher education is moving to the cloud. But that doesn’t mean your institution has to move everything and certainly not all at once.

So how do you decide what to move first?

The answer will be different for every organization, but I urge clients to start with low complexity, high suitability applications:

  • Low complexity: As you build internal support for cloud, it’s important to make sure the institution’s first migration experience is a good one. So start with less complex applications—those with the least connections to other applications and workflows.
  • High suitability: Some apps are better suited to leverage cloud benefits than others. Focus on applications in most need of improved scalability, agility, and user experience. In other words, places where you’ll see the most value.

The image below shows the type of applications and services that tend to fall in different areas on the suitability/complexity spectrum.

Suitability/complexity spectrum

Assessing the best strategy for each application

Identifying your quick wins—your low-complexity/high suitability applications—is a great first step. But eventually you should evaluate your entire portfolio and determine a cloud strategy for each application. There are many options, but following are the three I find apply most often to higher education institutions:

Option 1: Replace

  • What is it? Replacing a licensed application with cloud-native, subscription software (SaaS).
  • Why would you choose it? If you can provide a superior experience with cloud software, it may make sense to switch, rather than modify and host your existing application in the cloud.
  • Example: Switching to a subscription-based portal that users can access anytime, anywhere through the internet instead of being bound by a private network.

Option 2: Revise

  • What is it? Modifying a licensed application so that it’s optimized for cloud.
  • Why would you choose it? You want to take advantage of cloud capabilities while retaining a certain level of control and governance.
  • Example: Removing heavy customizations to a recruitment application and hosting it in a private cloud to improve scalability.

Option 3: Rehost

  • What is it? Hosting an application in the cloud without making changes to its architecture.
  • Why would you choose it? You have specific business requirements and customizations you cannot modify, but want the cost and security benefits of cloud hosting.
  • Example: Migrating an ERP to a private cloud to leverage state of the art security and disaster recovery services, while retaining business-critical customizations.

Most of our clients are choosing a mix of software-as-a-service (option 1) and application hosting (option 2). They key is to find the mix that offers the quickest path to the highest value.

Please share a Comment about how your institution is approaching cloud migration.

Read previous blog in this series: Making sense of cloud jargon

To learn how Ellucian can help you evaluate your cloud options, please visit our Cloud Solutions page.

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About the Author

Jeff Ralyea

Jeff Ralyea

Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cloud at Ellucian

Jeff creates cloud solutions that are integrated, flexible, and designed to enhance the student experience of today and tomorrow.