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Strategic and technical partnerships allow our community of institutions to collaborate more seamlessly to leverage technology and operate more efficiently. The alliance between Edge and EdgeMarket’s collaborator, Amazon Web Services (AWS), offers many benefits and makes innovative cloud technology more accessible, affordable and easier to consume for Edge members.

AWS provides Edge’s members with easy access to AWS cloud computing technologies via Edge’s high-performance research and education network so that they can quickly and efficiently use cloud technology to facilitate teaching, AWS also helps an institution better manage its IT operations and provides Edge’s members access to high-performance computing for demanding research projects.

“It is also important to note that AWS is part of the strong relationship among Edge, VMware and Carahsoft. Customers can easily use Carahsoft to procure AWS and VMware on AWS services in the same motion,” said AWS Senior Solutions Architect Mike Kuentz. “The AWS relationships help Edge members implement the best solution at the best possible value.”

“Customers have several options to procure native AWS Cloud services as well as VMware Cloud on AWS. VMware Cloud on AWS is an integrated cloud offering jointly developed by AWS and VMware that delivers a highly scalable, secure and innovative service that allows organizations to seamlessly migrate and extend their on-premises VMware vSphere-based environments to the AWS Cloud,” Kuentz said.

VMware Cloud on AWS is ideal for enterprise IT infrastructure and operations teams at organizations looking to migrate their on-premises vSphere-based workloads to the cloud. Edge members can optimize, simplify and modernize their disaster recovery solutions, and consolidate and extend their data center capacities.

Cloud as the New Normal in Higher Education

Taking advantage of cloud technology and benefits has become the industry standard as institutions deploy new cloud-native applications and migrate existing applications. Kuentz says AWS often receives questions such as: “How fast can we move?” and “What are we going to move first?”

“There is no-one-size-fits-all way for how institutions are moving to the cloud,” he said.

AWS has seen several major patterns emerge within enterprise customers. The first is development and test workloads. They have a number of customers who run disaster recovery and backups on AWS, like Idaho State University. According to the Idaho State team, they took a big leap forward in redundancy and disaster recovery by using AWS.

Aside from the disaster recovery use case, institutions are also leveraging the cloud for their websites and digital properties, as well as analytics. Kuentz shared that Villanova University uses AWS to host the school’s websites. In 2016, when the basketball team was in the Final Four and ultimately won the NCAA National Championship, website activity spiked +20,000% from 1K to 225K site requests. The website was ready and seamlessly handled the increase in traffic.

Another way customers use AWS is for analytics. Institutions indicate it is easier and more cost-effective to collect, store, study and share data on the cloud. The University of Chicago’s Computation Institute builds solutions for big data projects like genomics analysis.

“Needing a cost-effective way to provide always-on service to labs around the world, The University of Chicago’s Computation Institute hosts its Globus Transfer and Globus Genomics services on AWS,” Kuentz said. “Now, the Institute experiences more than 99% availability and can focus on delivering capabilities to scientists rather than building and maintaining infrastructure.”

Institutions are also migrating entire data centers and business-critical applications to the cloud. For example, the University of Arizona has moved its PeopleSoft and Kuali Research Administration systems to AWS. “We are seeing more and more examples of this with customers migrating natively to AWS or leveraging VMware on AWS to achieve migrating out of the data center,” Kuentz said. “We also see a move to all-in on AWS.”

“There’s no-one-size-fits-all path for moving to the cloud, but we’ve seen Edge members take advantage of the full portfolio of AWS services offered from compute resources and managed databases, all the way up the stack to artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms that are offered by AWS.”

Speed Matters on the Cloud

A key benefit to leveraging AWS technology is how easily and efficiently an institution can begin leveraging the cloud. Organizations preparing to move to the cloud from legacy, on-premise IT appreciate the agility and speed the cloud provides them. With cloud computing, IT offices can spin up thousands of servers in minutes as opposed to waiting the 10 to 18 weeks it typically takes to spin up servers being used on-premises. The AWS Cloud provides more than 90 services – everything from compute, storage, and databases to continuous integration, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. “This means you can go from idea to implementation in seconds rather than months,” Kuentz said.

There are many reasons why organizations of all shapes and sizes are migrating to the cloud. Some are migrating to the cloud to increase productivity, while other institutions decide to consolidate their data center in the cloud. “Additionally, there are institutions that are looking to completely re-imagine their goals using modern technology as part of a larger digital transformation program,” Kuentz said. “And of course, organizations are always looking for ways to improve the bottom line by reducing costs.”

AWS Boosts Research’s Productivity

AWS helps researchers in higher education process complex workloads by providing the cost-effective, scalable and secure compute, storage, and database capabilities needed to accelerate time-to-science. One example of how AWS helps researchers is the AWS Cloud Credits for Research program (formerly AWS Research Grants), which supports researchers who seek to build cloud-hosted, publicly available science-as-a-service applications, software, or tools to facilitate their future research and the research of their community.

AWS Cloud Credits for Research is also available for those looking to perform proof of concept or benchmark tests evaluating the efficacy of moving research workloads or open data sets to the cloud. This program can be used to train a broader community on the usage of cloud-for-research workloads via workshops or tutorials.

Waived Data Egress Fees Increase Performance

In March 2016, AWS began waiving data egress fees to qualified academic customers and researchers, making it much easier for these parties to use AWS computing, cloud storage, and database services. Data egress fees are fees associated with data transfer from a cloud provider to the Internet.

Edge and AWS also negotiated a GDEW contract in February 2018. The data egress waiver is important to all Edge members. AWS makes it easier for institutions to use its cloud storage, computing, and database services by waiving data egress fees for qualified researchers and academic customers. “In the case of AWS and Edge, users have higher bandwidth and lower latency when accessing public AWS resources and endpoints,” Kuentz said. “Overall, this improves performance for Edge end user customers.”

By reducing data egress fees, AWS helps researchers launch their first computing machine in minutes, analyze data pipelines, and store petabytes of data in the cloud, ultimately accelerating the time-to-science.

AWS Addresses Needs of the Higher Education Community

The AWS Cloud impacts all corners of a campus and beyond. The cloud sparks education innovation by helping to reduce costs, improve service delivery, and increase student access to education. Leveraging AWS technology can reduce campus facilities costs and free an institution’s staff from undifferentiated technical work. For example, Harvard Business Publishing ended its data center contracts and moved its operations entirely to the AWS Cloud. “Increasing efficiency and lowering costs are also benefits of moving to the cloud,” Kuentz said. “Compute, storage, database, and networking options help transform IT departments, freeing up staff to focus on teaching and learning.”

The strategic Edge and AWS partnership benefits countless colleges and universities in New Jersey. Edge members can have confidence that their IT systems, sophisticated applications, and analytics are going to have increased flexibility, scalability and reliability when using the AWS Cloud, which provides another avenue for higher education to change the world.