University of Plymouth – 'Into the Cloud' at UCISA Leadership Conference 2019

4th April, 2019

CoreAzure recently attended the 2019 UCISA Leadership Conference for Higher Education in Edinburgh. The conference provides a variety of different institutions the opportunity to proudly showcase their IT ventures from the previous 12 months. One of those universities presenting on the second day of conference was the team from Plymouth University, IT Director Paul Westmore and Senior Business Analyst Matt Campbell, who gave an honest and insightful presentation on their ambitious 'Into the Cloud’ programme.  

The 18-month project itself is centred around cleansing and re-platforming Plymouth’s legacy infrastructure and application estate either through a process of decommissioning the services or migrating them to the Microsoft Cloud Platform. CoreAzure are the university’s strategic cloud partner of choice for the programme, which is currently around two thirds the way through of an 18-month cycle.  

You don’t have to move far to know Cloud is a buzzword you will hear across the Higher Education sector, or across many others in fact - Cloud or Digital Transformation are words all too familiar with CIO’s and IT Director’s. Interestingly, Paul and Matt highlighted their surprise at just how easy the process has been for them. Paul drew upon the university’s experience thus far as “less transformational but more of a clean up exercise”. When CoreAzure engaged with Plymouth, the key drivers for their cloud programme were centred around the requirement for a shift to the next technology platform, and a chance to clean up 20+ years’ worth of bespoke services and applications that had been developed on the infrastructure. The Azure platform ultimately offered them a chance to run a leaner operation. 

Through a carefully guarded application rationalisation process, with decommissioning-first the preferred option, CoreAzure and Plymouth have already retired around 40 applications from the estate. This, along with an ongoing process of application optimisation in Azure, has allowed the university to keep a close eye on the financial costs of their new cloud platform – in fact savings of up to 20% when compared to their previous operation have already been realised.  

Perhaps if Paul and Matt were to give a similar talk a couple of years down the line, their talk would reflect more on the transformational opportunities of the cloud platform has provided. But for now, the focus has been on moving to a new technology platform, clearing legacy debt and reducing the risk of their IT operation. It’s clear as the project moves into its final stages that it’s been a great success for the university, as the move forward “Into the Cloud”.