Assessment of Student Hosting Options

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1 Business Case: Outsource UG & PGT Student Hosting to the Cloud v0.5 Assessment of Student Hosting Options Overview The University s current undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate taught (PGT) student hosting service resides upon a mature ISS hosted Exchange 2007 platform that is four years old. The hosting hardware will reach end of life during ISS planned to review student hosting options as this hardware approached end of life with a view of comparing an internally provisioned replacement service against Cloud based solution. Such a review is also in line with a Digital Campus recommendation. There are two market leaders in Cloud based provision of hosting: Microsoft and Google based upon their respective Exchange and Google Mail products. Both suppliers have offered such services in the education space for four years. The product offerings have evolved significantly during this period. Both suppliers provide such services free at the point of use to educational establishments. Appendix 2 summarises the student hosting position of other Russell Group and NorMAN institutions. Current Provision The University s current hosting provision is split into two services, one for UG/PGT and the other for staff/pgr. The UG/PGT service serves over 30,000 student mailboxes with an overlapping group of graduating students where mailboxes are retained for a period of time post-graduation. The current staff 1 hosting platform serves around 10,000 staff and postgraduate research (PGR) 2 mailboxes. Both staff and student hosting platforms are inter-linked using Microsoft Active Directory which permits a seamless integration of calendaring, address list and message tracking functionality. The hosting platform for UG/PGT resides upon six servers and six directly attached disc arrays (each with 12 mirrored hard discs). The servers are deployed in an active/passive configuration between the Claremont Data Centre and Databanx (that is although data is replicated between the two data centres, only servers in one data centre provide service to students at any one time). Student access to the service is via Outlook Web Access and personal mobile devices only 3. UG/PGT students have a quota of 200MB, although they cannot send when a 150MB limit is reached. The IT staffing effort required to support the ever growing number of different devices used to access University services by both staff and students is increasing. Many users of the current in-house provided services are using more than one device to gain access to , some doing this simultaneously: such behavioural change is adding to the support load given the conflicting demands of such access. 1 Staff (and PGR) hosting is excluded from the scope of this proposal. The platform upon which such hosting sits is quite independent of UG/PGT hosting and as a whole is not under the same replacement pressure; the potential issues relating to information security and intellectual property protection are very different and require further consideration; the engagement process will be wider and lengthy; ISS does not have the internal specialist resource to manage both migrations in parallel. ISS suggests that the business case for moving staff hosting to the cloud should be considered during CY 2012 with possible staged implementation during CY PGR students are hosted on the same platform as University staff as it has been deemed appropriate to deliver the same level of service to PGRs as staff. 3 Staff and PGRs can access their via Outlook Web Access and the full Outlook client running on a desktop PC or via the Remote Application Service, RAS. Page 1

2 Future Provision: Alternatives ISS believes there are three alternatives for UG/PGT hosting provision: in-house; outsourced to the Cloud; no provision. In-house Provision ISS estimate that the non-staff cost of replacing the current UG/PGT hardware platform in 2012 will require a capital investment of 160K 4 with a recurrent element of 5K pa. The staff cost of implementation will be in the order of 0.8 FTE at Level F during implementation and an on-going cost of 0.5 FTE at Level F to maintain the service, including providing second/third-line support to students. The electrical usage and carbon impact of in-house provision is estimated to be 68,000 KWh and 36,500 Kg of CO 2 pa. Benefits The clear benefits of in-house provision are around control: Costs are known and predictable and can flow into the annual planning cycle; Traceability: that in event of a dispute, the University can trace whether an did arrive in a particular student mailbox; Risks/Disadvantages Capital and recurrent impact on the University s budget; Staff resource required to install/configure/migrate every hardware replacement cycle (every 4-5 years); The carbon impact from hosting within University managed data centres; Failure to meet student expectations on storage limits 5 given the University cannot afford to provide the storage capacity offered by out-sourced providers. Cloud Provision Both Microsoft and Google provide their respective services to education establishments free at the point of use because: the sector provides a good test base for their offerings before deployment to their equivalent chargeable service; students become familiar with the particular products increasing the likelihood they will continue to use them post-graduation; post-graduation, if the account continues to be used, customers are exposed to targeted advertising. If the University were to implement either of the Cloud offerings described below, ISS estimate that implementation would require 1.2 FTE of staff effort at level F and 0.3 FTE at level F pa to maintain the service, primarily focussed on second and third line support to students. ISS do not believe the overall load on the Service Desk will change through a Cloud implementation, rather the processes that deal with such UG/PGT student queries will change. In both cases, UG/PGT students will be provided with address. 4 These costs provide for an increase in quota to each student from 200MB to 1000MB. 5 Clearly it would be very expensive (both in terms of capital and recurrent costs) for the University to offer the same level of storage capacity in-house that is offered by the Cloud offerings. It is unlikely that most students would use anywhere approaching the headline 25GB of storage offered by Microsoft and Google. Consequently, a comparison between the proposed in-house provision at 1GB and Cloud provision at 25GB is deemed to be fair. Page 2

3 Microsoft Microsoft s current Cloud service in the education arena is branded as ; Microsoft plan to upgrade and re-brand the offering as Office 365 for Education early in Given the timescales only the Office 365 for Education offering will be discussed. It offers (to students): Online version of Microsoft Exchange 2010; 25GB quota and 25GB 6 of online (non- ) storage; Office Web Apps (online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote); Instant messaging/video conferencing via Lync Online; Collaborative web sites via SharePoint Online; Linkage with the University s Active Directory infrastructure to permit calendaring and address list integration between the University s staff/pgr infrastructure and Office 365 for Education; Secure use of University authentication system (students will use their Campus password albeit with an extended username); Use post-graduation facilitating alumni communications. Google The Google Cloud service in the education arena is branded Google Apps for Education. It offers: Online version of Gmail; 25GB quota and 1GB of storage for Google Docs; Google Docs (online word processor, spreadsheet and drawing packages); Instant messaging via Google Talk; Collaborative web sites via Google Sites; Secure use of University authentication system (students will use their Campus password albeit with an extended username); Use post-graduation facilitating alumni communications. Benefits Enhanced student experience: o Substantially increased quota 7 ; o Access to on-line versions of office based applications; o Seamless ability to continue service usage (including access to past ) post-graduation and providing a more reliable method of keeping in touch with alumni 8. Reduced carbon impact of service delivery; Reduced recurrent cost (including electricity usage avoidance); Capital expenditure avoidance in terms hardware purchase. In steady state following implementation, both in-house and Cloud provisioning methods will require a reduction in staff effort of circa 0.2 FTE pa to maintain the service. However, implementation of a Cloud based service will require greater upfront staffing effort compared to in-house provision 9. 6 The size of online storage is currently under review by Microsoft. 7 In both out-sourced options, UG/PGT students will be provided with substantially more storage than University staff/pgr students, a reversal than then current in-house provision. 8 As is the case presently, post-graduation UG/PGT students will be offered an address for life of the where YYYY is the graduation year. Page 3

4 Risks/Disadvantages There are risks from a Cloud implementation: University Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee The supplier decides to charge for the service; Perceived loss of control (e.g. system upgrades take place without reference to the University s business needs); Reliance upon the Internet for UG/PGT student access both whilst on and off the University premises; Concerns over information security, in particular any implied responsibilities upon the University if personal data is to be processed outside the EEA; Significant one-off effort integrating Cloud provided hosting with the University s systems, primarily around authentication and global address list sharing; There are likely to be other risks that are currently unknown, but we are actively working with colleagues from other institutions who have carried out a similar implementation to scope such risks and evaluate suitable controls/mitigation. No Hosting Provision The final alternative is that the University does not provide any hosting facilities to UG/PGT students. Given nearly all students arrive at the University with an existing personal account (e.g. Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail), does the University need to provide another account for UG/PGT students to monitor and use? To ease communications between staff and students, the University could provide a forwarding service whereby address is available for each student that simply forwards to their personal account, such forwarding addresses made available in the University s global address list. Benefits No capital costs for hardware provision; Little recurrent costs (electricity usage and carbon impact); Students continue to use the service with which they are most familiar; Students can change service provider as they wish. Risks/Disadvantages The University will have to develop an in-house system to keep track of student personal addresses and their mapping addresses; UG/PGT students do not keep their forwarding address up to date leading to the University losing contact with the student; No traceability of message receipt; A reply from a member of staff to a student may not reach the student if the student s personal address is used. 9 There are some economies of scale hidden in the in-house provisioning given ISS have no plans to change the arrangements for staff/pgr hosting. Page 4

5 Comparison of the Microsoft and Google Cloud Offerings Both Microsoft and Google provide similar functional offerings. The differentiators between the offerings are the integration with the University s infrastructure and, from a student experience perspective, the familiarity of the Online Office applications compared to those deployed on student cluster desktops. Given the University s investment in Microsoft based services, ISS believe that the Microsoft Office 365 for Education offering provides more benefits to UG/PGT students than the current Google offering: Seamless calendar and global address list sharing between staff/pgr and UG/PGT students; Familiarity with the MS Office based products available on the common desktop. Recommendations to Strategic Information Systems Group 1. Given the additional functionality to students, the green benefits and capital cost avoidance, ISS recommend that the University out-sources its UG/PGT student hosting provision; 2. Given the clear benefits of functionality familiarity to students and integration with existing systems, ISS recommends that the University uses Microsoft Office 365 for Education for UG/PGT student hosting provision the commencing AY , ISS, 29 th November Updated 8 th December Updated 5 th January Updated 23 rd January Page 5

6 Appendix 1: Risk Register University Teaching, Learning and Student Experience Committee Risk Ref Description of Risk Risk Owner Gross Risk Score Controls Required Control In Place and Working Net Risk Score I L T I L T Overall Control Status & Proposed additional control measures 1 Outsourced hosting service is removed. Triggered by: 1. Supplier withdraws service offering; 2. Supplier introduced charging at a level unacceptable to the University. Consequences: 1. Service unavailable to students; 2. Student loss of access/availability to . 2 Service unavailable to students. Triggered by: 1. Planned maintenance work by the supplier; 2. Unplanned outages. Consequences: 1. Service unavailable to students. JNB Agreement between the University and the supplier with an adequate notice period clause to permit the University to migrate to an alternative supplier (which could be inhouse). t1, t2. JWD Regular contact with the supplier to proactively provide availability information to students. t1. 2. Service availability information published on ISS website. t1, t2. Yes Overall Status: Green Yes Overall Status: Amber ISS believes that this is an inherent risk of outsourced provision. Page 6

7 Appendix 2: Hosting Arrangements at other Institutions. Russell Group Students Staff Birmingham In-house IMAP In-house IMAP Bristol Google Apps for Education Google Apps for Education Cambridge In-house IMAP In-house IMAP Cardiff In-house Lotus Notes In-house Lotus Notes Edinburgh Microsoft Microsoft Glasgow In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange Imperial College London In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange King's College London In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange Leeds In-house IMAP In-house Microsoft Exchange Liverpool In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange LSE In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange Manchester Microsoft In-house Microsoft Exchange Newcastle In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange Nottingham In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange Oxford In-house IMAP In-house Microsoft Exchange QUB In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange Sheffield Google Apps for Education Google Apps for Education Southampton In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange UCL Microsoft Microsoft Warwick Microsoft Microsoft NorMAN Northumbria Microsoft In-house Microsoft Exchange Newcastle In-house Microsoft Exchange In-house Microsoft Exchange Durham In-house Microsoft Exchange but currently under consideration In-house Microsoft Exchange Sunderland Google Apps for Education In-house Microsoft Exchange Teesside Microsoft In-house Microsoft Exchange Commentary: Institutions that have outsourced hosting provision, those that had a UNIX heritage for services have tendered to opt for Google Apps for Education whilst those with a Microsoft Windows based service have opted to outsource to Microsoft This is probably explained by the former lacking mature Microsoft Active Directory authentication systems that are a requirement for integration with Microsoft Page 7

8 Appendix 3: Implementation Issues/Comments A non-exhaustive list of implementation issues and comments is noted below: 1. Implementation planning will commence in January 2012 prior to project approval: a. Complete due diligence with the supplier via Procurement Services (first round completed 5/1/2012); b. Discussions with other universities regarding lessons learned activities from similar implementations; 2. The University will take this implementation opportunity to deploy domain for students: a. New students will only receive address; b. Existing students will retain address as a forward to address. 3. Existing student will be migrated to the Cloud platform by the University during Summer 2012: a. destined for existing students during the migration process will be queued on the University s relays: such will not be lost; b. It is expected that individual student loss of access to the will be measured in hours not days; c. Existing PGT student will not be migrated. Appendix 4: Benefits to Students A concise list of benefits of the Microsoft Office 365 for Education to students is noted below: Substantial increase in quota from 200MB to 25GB; A green/sustainable hosting platform compared to that currently supported in-house by the University; Automatic retention of all content at the end of course; Access to on-line versions of Microsoft Office products providing the same look and feel as those available on the common desktop; Free on-line storage for personal usage; An account for life. A simple comparison between current and proposed provision features is noted below. Feature of Service Current Provision Proposed Out-sourced Provision quota 200MB 25GB Access to Office based applications Cluster desktops and RAS Cluster desktops, RAS and online via any web-browser Storage for personal H: drive only H: drive and SkyDrive usage access post- Student must move manually to another Seamless graduation Outlook Web Access Client service provider before end of course Reduced functionality, in particular when using non-internet Explorer web browsers. Improved functionality giving a rich client access experience. Page 8

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