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Introducing UCloud: the new hybrid cloud service at the U

By Emily Rushton

On March 30, 2018, UIT will introduce a new cloud service offering called UCloud, a hybrid cloud platform that seamlessly integrates university-owned on-site cloud services with public cloud services (e.g., Amazon Web Services and Azure).

Jim Livingston, CTO

UCloud is not simply an incremental improvement to existing services – it’s a game-changing, enterprise-level service using a completely new set of technologies, tools, and processes that bring the university in line with today’s industry best practices for infrastructure and platform services.

People at the U will be able to order UCloud services through an easy-to-use self-service web portal that will enable an Amazon-like experience for ordering, provisioning/set up, maintenance, and service changes.

“UCloud is a critical aspect of our cloud strategy,” said Jim Livingston, Chief Technology Officer. “It brings an unprecedented level of infrastructure agility that enables the organization to move forward with its changing needs.”

Some of UCloud’s most exciting features include cutting-edge software-defined technologies, better security and control over university data, the ability to rapidly scale capacity up or down based on fluctuating computing resource demands, automated network provisioning, and optional Active Directory integration. It’s also as flexible as administrators want it to be, ranging from maintaining complete control to provisioning “set it and forget it” automated maintenance. Pricing will be lower than public cloud products, making UCloud a fiscally-sound option for university organizations, especially for enterprise-level services and applications.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing environments are hosted services over the internet that enable an organization to consume compute resources as a utility, such as virtual machines, storage, databases, middleware, and applications. When provisioned and managed properly, cloud services can reduce costs and staff time because local IT administrators no longer need to research, purchase, and locally set up and manage hardware and software and upgrades/patches. In addition, cloud services give IT administrators the ability to select the right services and capacity, with the flexibility to make changes as needed over time.

Traditional Cloud Services at the U

Going back as far as 2010, UIT has provided campus organizations with virtualization services. Over the years these traditional services have proven to be a valuable and serviceable option for users, and UIT teams have worked to provide improvements on a regular basis, focusing on fine-tuning existing functionality, security, and reliability. The process works smoothly and the end result provides customers with what they need, but ordering and provisioning traditional virtualization services is a highly manual process, requiring customers to open request tickets, after which UIT allocates a subnet, assigns a VLAN, and assigns policies based on IP address.

For the past couple of years, UIT has been keeping an eye on the cloud industry, and planning for the right time to roll out a new, flexible self-service offering for the U that competes with publicly-available modern cloud service environments.

“One of the most exciting aspects of UCloud is the ability to completely automate service provisioning and data center operations,” said Livingston.

More options, more flexibility 

UCloud is a paradigm shift, creating more options for the U community and offering a new tier of services in addition to the traditional virtualization offerings UIT provides. Traditional virtualization services will continue to be available to customers with the same pricing structure that’s been in place since 2013. As hardware ages, the traditional environment will be phased out.

For more information, including the technical details behind UCloud, please visit the UCloud website.

Last Updated: 3/27/19