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Auckland University looks to the cloud

01 Dec 09

Auckland University will continue its trend-setting embrace of IT technology in 2010 when it begins a cloud computing beta test trial with VMware.

Not content with being one of the most virualised organisations in the country, Auckland University is currently in discussions with VMware to begin a cloud transition in the second quarter of next year.

Russell Smith, ITS Associate Director – Operations, says having virtualised 85% of the university’s network since 2005, cloud computing is a natural progression.

The virtualisation programme has seen the university cut back from 350 physical servers to 800 virtual machines housed on over 30 servers in two farms.

VMware has worked with Auckland University every step of the way, and with the company looking at releasing its first commercial cloud offering next year, Smith says the university is honoured to be involved in trialing the new technology.

Smith says the move to the cloud will offer the university’s various faculties the chance to tailor their IT infrastructure to specific requirements.

“What cloud computing will do is allow us to offer services to the various faculties as a consumption model,” he says. “The cloud will allow us to offer Infrastructure-as-a-Service (SIaaS) where it is needed.”

While the cloud offers common benefits across the entire university, the move just makes “absolute sense”, especially in the research field – storing data accessible via the cloud rather than on a server such under someone’s desk seems like a better option, he says.

“We see it as a natural progression building on from our virtualisation process.”

With concerns over both security and IP, the university’s cloud programme will have to be an internal private cloud to begin with.

There is also the potential to look at a hybrid option of both private and public clouds in the future if required, he says.

Smith believes the plan will make Auckland University the first tertiary organisation in New Zealand to move into the cloud, moving alongside a number of forward-thinking Australian tertiary providers that are looking to embrace the cloud in 2010.

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