University of Maryland manages data with AWS service provider Zenoss

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Colleges are increasingly turning to cloud solutions to help lessen the IT load.

One example is provided by Zenoss, which delivers monitoring services as part of a number of cloud applications provided by Amazon Web Services, which just had its annual public sector summit in Washington this week.

Officials from the enterprise solutions company said what has started as a service for businesses has now grown to encompass colleges that are looking to easily store vast amounts of data and reduce the amount of servers necessary on campus, to have a unified platform.

Zenoss works closely with The University of Maryland University College, whose IT director recently talked about how Zenoss and AWS are helping improve IT operations for the university, a state institution offering more than 95 online bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“I think the reliability of our services and the response time of our engineers when there is a problem has dramatically increased,” said Greg Smith, associate vice president of the college’s enterprise operation. “The ability for an engineer to react quickly and efficiently to an issue is helpful. Now our service desk can see interactions and be able to coordinate with the right people right away.”

The college used to have five data centers – more than what was necessary.

“We had 1,500 pieces of hardware between our five data centers,” Smith said in an interview. Now, he said, that has been consolidated to 100 servers and three data centers.

“We’re leveraging tools that Amazon provides to optimize the workloads in the cloud platform,” he said.

The college had a six-month target period to migrate data over to the cloud, and it happened in record time for overseas students in Europe and Asia.

“We are looking at everything within their cloud environment, and monitoring that cloud infrastructure,” said Adelle Rydman, director of federal business, public sector, for Zenoss.

“We can tell them if they’re running out of bandwidth, if they have peak performance times, where they’re hitting their limit, if there’s an issue with the cloud environment that’s not performing as expected. We think of it as the health and status of their IT infrastructure.”

Information on college campuses are highly valued, especially as students and faculty alike expect to be able to access their networks all the time. Zenoss, which started in 2006, also currently works with Temple University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, Davis.

“Colleges are facing the same types of challenges that corporate America is facing,” said Rydman. “Things are becoming very virtualized. There are new technologies that are proliferating, and [colleges] really need a unified way to manage all of this.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that Zenoss works with the University of Maryland University College, not the University of Maryland, College Park.

Reach the reporter at corinne.lestch@edscoop.com and follow her on Twitter @clestch and @edscoop_news.

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