IT Staff Training Supports UA’s Move to Cloud

Aug. 27, 2019
Derek Masseth

EdTech Magazine recently published an article: "Get University Users on Board with New IT Software Initiatives." They included UA CTO Derek Masseth's thoughts on how to successfully make the move to cloud.  

IT Staff Training Supports University of Arizona’s Move to Cloud

IT leaders at the University of Arizona tested the waters of moving applications to the cloud as early as 2013.

“We knew that working with the cloud in various forms could be transformative to us and users,” says CTO Derek Masseth. “It started with minor experimentation and ultimately evolved into a commitment to migrate all of our enterprise systems into cloud-based applications delivered as a service.”

But early on, he met resistance, particularly from IT practitioners.

“We heard people say that the cloud was just a passing fad, it was less secure or it couldn’t perform like our current infrastructure,” says Masseth.

His solution: a robust, inclusive training program to build confidence and familiarity with the cloud for IT staff. Communication also focused on how learning cloud-based technology could further staffers’ careers.

“We didn’t talk to them about what the institution needed, but why they should invest in themselves,” says Masseth. “And we made a commitment to invest in our own people with cloud-focused training over the course of several years.”

That initial distrust of new technologies is fairly typical, says Bowker, of Enterprise Strategy Group. “If that happens, it comes down to finding advocates and providing proper training, education and certification,” he says. “You need to show people that moving to the cloud really provides career opportunities.”

For the University of Arizona, the actual transfer of applications to the cloud started small, then went bigger.

“We considered the scope and scale of each application — how difficult each move would be, how many users it affected and the potential business impact if things went awry,” says Masseth.

The team started with the smallest, least-complex application — the grants management system — which had just six or seven users and a small number of servers and databases. They then moved on to human resources and the financial system.

The last piece to migrate to the cloud was the student administration system, which was a successful endeavor. “It touches every student on campus, so there’s not a lot of latitude for mistakes,” says Masseth.


Read the whole article at EdTech Magazine.