Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ann Arbor campus seeks strategic partnerships with cloud service providers

The first of four vendors of cloud-based computing services will be on the Ann Arbor campus this week to demonstrate their services and to meet with members of the campus community. Three others will visit over the next two weeks.

Register for public sessions with the cloud services vendors.

• Visit the NextGen Michigan website for more information on the visits and the future of cloud computing at U-M.

The sessions are the next phase in a months-long evaluation process to help the university establish a strategic partnership with at least one cloud vendor. This would allow the U-M community easier access to their services at the best possible cost and with the widest set of options.

The university's long-term cloud computing strategy aims to offer more external cloud services.

Those interested in attending the public sessions of the vendors chosen in the first round of evaluations should register by today. The vendors are:

• Amazon — Thursday, 9-10:30 a.m., Palmer Commons, Great Lakes South.

• Microsoft — Feb. 19, 9-10:30 a.m., Palmer Commons, Great Lakes Central.

• Salesforce — Feb. 20, 9-10:30 a.m., Palmer Commons, Great Lakes North.

• IBM — Feb. 26, 9-10:30 a.m., Palmer Commons, Great Lakes Central.

The ideal external vendor would augment existing IT services on the Ann Arbor campus, providing virtual servers, databases, and application delivery platforms, as well as storage solutions for administrative and research uses.

A cross-campus group of IT professionals is leading the evaluation process. The group includes staff and faculty from LSA, College of Engineering, School of Dentistry, Medical School and others.

Since last fall, the group has been evaluating public cloud providers of basic infrastructure-type services in the areas of technology, IT security and compliance, access for those with disabilities, as well as pricing and customer support.

Bryan Beecher, of the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research at the Institute for Social Research, uses a cloud-based service to manage huge data sets from researchers around the world that are published on the ICPSR website. He said he would like U-M to select a few vendors and then "tear down all the barriers that make it difficult for someone like me to consume those offerings."

Once the comprehensive evaluation process is complete, the group hopes to negotiate a final agreement by June 30, the end of fiscal year 2013.