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Cal State’s CMS Data Center Transformation Recognized with CENIC Innovation Award


The California State University’s Common Management Systems (CMS) Data Center Transformation project has been selected as the recipient of the CENIC 2018 Innovations in Networking Award for Cloud Applications. This award is given in recognition of the significant effort required to bring the CMS data center from Salt Lake City to its current state-of-the-art facility in Silicon Valley, thereby enabling CSU to use a hybrid cloud platform.

Project leader George Mansoor, Chief Information Systems Officer at the California State University, Office of the Chancellor, will accept the award on behalf of the numerous CSU staff who contributed to this project.

The CSU’s CMS program is a collaborative, systemwide effort to provide efficient, effective, and high-quality enterprise application services to the students, faculty, and staff across the 23-campus system. The program supports human resources, financial services, student services, and administration functions with a common suite of Oracle enterprise applications.

Since its inception, the CMS data center’s services that support the applications had been provided by a third-party partner, Unisys, in a private cloud environment in Salt Lake City. While this approach had served CSU well, the evolution of public cloud service providers and related cloud management technology presented the university with new opportunities for increased flexibility, enhanced reliability, improved disaster recovery, and reduced costs. To leverage these new opportunities, CSU decided to move the CMS data center services to a hybrid cloud environment to mesh the advantages of both private and public cloud environments.

The new data center environment is in a state-of-the-art Unisys facility in Silicon Valley. The Northern California location provides physical proximity to public cloud data centers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Locating the CSU’s private cloud data center resources near several significant public cloud data centers enables the hybrid approach. By minimizing the physical distance between the private and public environments, CSU can operate in the private cloud on a day-to-day basis and take advantage of the public cloud during peak demand periods. Additionally, if the need arises to launch new data center resources for specific projects or proof-of-concept activities, this can be done quickly and affordably in the public cloud.

"Operating in a hybrid cloud environment will allow CSU to progress toward the utilization of more and more public cloud resources over time. This positions us well to leverage the benefits of the public cloud,” says Patrick Perry, Chief Information Officer at the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

In addition to the reliability and flexibility provided by a hybrid cloud environment, CSU anticipates that the institution will be able to accommodate the growth in demand for data center services in a manner that will minimize cost. This is due to the new hybrid environment’s ability to leverage additional resources in the public cloud to accommodate growth instead of building up private cloud resources.

Preparations for the migration to the new data center facility in Northern California were underway for six months. The Chancellor's Office ITS Enterprise Information Systems department worked closely with its campus counterparts to get the necessary prerequisites in place, and the migration took place over a weekend in early February 2018. The significant planning and collaboration efforts paid off as the migration was completed and tested 12 hours ahead of the anticipated schedule.

"The entire team worked really hard and we were so pleased with how smoothly the transition went," noted George Mansoor about the successful migration. "Our ultimate measure of success was the fact that most folks showed up to work on Monday morning at the campuses and had no idea that anything had changed."

The CENIC Innovations in Networking Awards are presented each year at CENIC’s annual conference to highlight the exemplary innovations that leverage ultra-high bandwidth networking, particularly where those innovations have the potential to transform the ways in which instruction and research are conducted or where they further the deployment of broadband in underserved areas. The CENIC conference will be held March 5 – 7, 2018, in Monterey, California.

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