The Cloud Solutions team in Jisc works with a variety of members and customers from across education and the wider public- and third- sectors on a variety of projects and activities. For many, our primary focus is to help them with the strategic planning for their IT infrastructure, particularly as it relates to cloud adoption (obviously!). What are the pros and cons of moving to the cloud? How does the TCO compare to on-prem? How ready are they to move? Where are they with their digital transformation? What does their infrastructure roadmap look like? That kind of thing.
For others, the strategic decisions have already been made. What they need is practical help in the form of professional services and/or managed services, typically focusing on architecting new services in the cloud, re-architecting existing applications to take advantages of the new functionality offered by the cloud, or, in a few cases, simply migrating services to the cloud pretty much as they are.
Over the next few months, we’ll share some of the work we have been doing with members and customers, just to give a flavour of the kinds of areas we can help with.
One such customer is the Warwick Employment Group (part of Warwick University Services Limited) who are responsible for Jobs.ac.uk, the leading international job board for careers in academic, research, science and related professions. The Jobs.ac.uk team had been an existing customer of Eduserv for a long time – since well before the public cloud as we know it today became available and well before the merger between Jisc and Eduserv was first mooted. Back in early 2017 they came to us wanting to gain greater agility in the way their service was delivered, better resilience against server failures and the ability to think about taking their services to a much wider audience.
As far as I recall, they already had Amazon Web Services (AWS) in mind. We talked to them about the benefits they would gain from re-architecting their services on AWS and did some analysis of what their likely costs would be. A migration project was agreed. I doubt that we told them at the time but they were the second AWS customer that we did any significant re-architecting for (after Bristol City Council for whom, at the time, we had just completed a migration of their website to AWS).
As with all our cloud projects, we adopted an infrastructure as code approach from the ground up, using CloudFormation to capture the deployments and designing an AWS account and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) structure in line with UK Government OFFICIAL guidance and AWS best practice. We took their database layer into the Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) and used multiple Availability Zones to provide much greater resilience than had previously been possible in the Eduserv data centre.
One of the features of the Jobs.ac.uk service is the large numbers of email messages that get sent out – that is their primary job alerting mechanism. The volume of emails required the use of the Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) – our first experience with that service. As a well-known public-facing service, we have also had to work hard to keep the service secure.
I’m pleased to say that we continue to work closely with the Jobs.ac.uk team, now as Jisc Cloud Solutions rather than Eduserv, providing them with a mix of ongoing managed service (patching, backups, etc.) as well as professional services and advice where they need it.