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At the Internet2 Global Summit, attendees outlined the strengths and weaknesses of AWS, GCP and Azure — and imagined using all three vendors at once.
Emily Tate is a reporter and technology editor for EdScoop. She writes about the latest developments in technology, applications and digital learni...
When it comes to the cloud, higher education technology decision makers have three options: avoid it altogether, commit to a single vendor or sign on with multiple vendors by embracing each of their strengths.
That’s according to a group of college and university IT leaders who attended the 2018 Internet2 Global Summit in San Diego and led a session titled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cloud.”
Higher education has to learn to get over the “cloud boogeyman” of costs and security, said Bob Flynn, the manager of cloud technology support at Indiana University, because not only is cloud the future, but a “multi-cloud strategy” may well be the best way forward.
“Three or four years ago, there was all this discussion about vendor lock-in,” Flynn said. “Right now, folks are trying to stay diverse. At any given point in time, a lone vendor may have technology that the others don’t.”
Many institutions are using a single public cloud vendor — and most often, they’re using one of three: Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or Microsoft Azure. Colleges that use Microsoft operating systems typically go with Azure, while those using G Suite may opt for GCP.
“It’s very easy for you to go one way,” said John Bailey, manager of public cloud services at Washington University in St. Louis.
“Experience with platforms leads to de facto preferences,” Flynn added.
But Flynn and Bailey, along with cloud managers from the University of Chicago and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, argued that universities that use a variety of cloud vendors are in fact more competitive and savvier than those that use a single cloud vendor.
That’s because each cloud platform has expertise in different areas, they said, so using a piecemeal approach allows the vendors to play to their strengths.
With that in mind, Flynn asked the audience of higher ed technology leaders to put their heads together and outline the strengths and weaknesses of each of the three major platforms: AWS, GCP and Azure. Their answers, as they were presented, are summarized below.
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