Nov. 8-11, 2022 at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

Cloud Forum Presentation Abstracts

— Back to the Cloud Forum Schedule

November 9 Presentations

Optimizing our new AWS account creation process for time and cost

Nick Marangella, University of California San Diego
9:15 am | Slides
In the beginning, there was darkness… and a 14-page internal document of instructions on how engineers create a new AWS account. We got started like everyone else and created our AWS accounts and VPCs by hand. Over time this evolved into a combination of python scripts and CloudFormation templates which drastically reduced the amount of time needed to create a new account. One step was out of our team’s hands, the VPN connection for the VPC. We would have to submit a ticket to our networking team and wait… sometimes weeks because of how busy their queue is. In 2018, AWS released the Transit Gateway which allowed customers to share a VPN connection to multiple VPCs. Now, we could bring up a new account quickly, the same day it was requested by a customer.

We will discuss the financial and technical issues we considered as we added automation to cloud account creation and share the issues we had during implementation. By consolidating our 100 gateways down to 3 in an “egress VPC” we drastically reduced the overhead of creating single accounts and our monthly cost overall.

Cloud Forum Virtual Day 1 (assets)

Lightning Talks

10:00 am | Slides

  1. Let a Thousand PaaSes Bloom – Matthew Rich, Northwestern University
    The hyperscalers take up much of our thoughts, but a new generation of PaaS vendors is capturing the hearts of your developers. This short talk will describe a handful of modern PaaSes you should be aware of.
  2. Provisioning GovCloud Accounts – Shelley Rossell, University of Chicago
    GovCloud account set up differs from that of commercial AWS accounts. This is a summary of key lessons learned and our current GovCloud account provisioning process

Panel: The Challenge of Federal Cloud Funding

Nick Weber, National Institutes of Health
10:15 am
Academic research depends heavily on the support and direction of government funding agencies. Despite their best efforts, these support programs can create as many challenges as they do opportunities. This panel will discuss the conflicting realities.

Research: Using the Cloud to Disrupt Health and Medicine 

Dr. Azizi Seixas, Director of The Media and Innovation Lab, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine
11:00 am | Slides
The presentation will describe the 5 verticals in academic medicine (education, research, clinical care, venture and service, and outreach) and highlight how cloud and digital technology can democratize healthcare thus making it more equitable. Dr. Seixas will describe how he and his team are disrupting research through his novel precision and personalized population health framework, a framework and analytical workflow that leads to greater insights about human health and wellness at the individual and population levels. 

Kion: A Penn State Journey

Rick Rhoades, Penn State University
1:00 pm | Slides
In late 2020, the Cloud Services Team at Penn State began looking for a new offering to provide multi-cloud visibility to their customers. Kion promised to meet many of those needs and quickly jumped to the top of the list of possible replacements. This presentation will take you through Penn State’s journey from discovery, purchase, implementation, and ultimately, Cloud Enablement with Kion.

How UCF is Pursuing Cloud Maturity

Jonathan White, University of Central Florida
1:30 pm | Slides
The University of Central Florida is one of the largest universities in the country by enrollment, serving over 70,000 students and 12,500 faculty and staff. With average annual cloud spend more than doubling each year, UCF has turned to both Cloudability and their own cloud maturity scorecard to stay on top of unrelenting customer demand for more of everything across multiple clouds. Learn about how UCF leverages these tools to surface insights, identify constraints, and communicate progress across a federated IT organization, as well as practical recommendations based on UCF’s cloud journey and experience utilizing Cloudability.

Workshop: Cultivating a Cloud Culture in Your Organization

2:00 pm | Slides
The focus of the workshop will be on building successful culture, teams, and cloud fluency. How do we get there? Is it through successful training programs, organizational structures, roles, committees, common terminology, and high-level governance, or will it all just magically happen? There is a need to establish a common, controlled platform that can empower our students, faculty, and researchers to freely build their solutions without increasing institutional risk and still allowing enterprise-level visibility.

The workshop organizers ask that you read this brief blog post prior to coming to the workshop.

November 10 Presentations

Harvard University: Why Multi-Cloud?

Albert Pacheco & Sean McCarty, Harvard University
8:45 am | Slides
Despite the common wisdom that companies should focus on a single cloud provider, taking advantage of specialized technologies and bulk pricing, universities don’t necessarily have that choice. We need to support what the community needs, and if a researcher has a grant or a local unit has a valid business need on a different cloud provider, then there needs to be at least some offering. Harvard University started with Amazon Web Services (AWS), added Microsoft Azure, and has recently increased support for Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as well. This talk will cover some of our decision-making process and what we eventually built for each provider.

Centralized Cloud Infrastructure

Lucrecia Kim-Boswell, Stanford University
9:15 am | Slides
Learn how Stanford University operationalized access to cloud accounts by creating a centralized service that includes automated ordering, provisioning, and billing (chargebacks) via ServiceNow.

Cloud Forum Virtual Day 2 (assets)

Lightning Talks

10:00 am | Slides

  1. So, You Want to Move to the Cloud. What Could Go Wrong? – Bob Flynn, Internet2
    The cloud service providers are eager to help your institution, your researchers, and your students make the most of the cloud. Your infrastructure will be agile and efficient. Your researchers will reach higher heights. Your students will all graduate with cloud jobs. The vision is so clear. It all seems so easy. What could go wrong?
  2. What’s a Title got to do with it? – Dan Landerman, Northwestern University
    A brief look at applying the appropriate titles to Cloud roles from the perspective of a new Cloud Engineer.
  3. Quantum Computing in the Classroom – Chris Lawrence, University of Iowa
    A year ago, the Cloud Team at the University of Iowa was approached by a professor and his local IT staff about using AWS. The goal? Teach an Intro to Quantum Computing class. We’ll briefly talk about how cloud technology pushed the envelope for teaching and gave students an opportunity to have hands-on experience with bleeding-edge hardware.
  4. Piloting Microsoft’s Direct Pay Option – Cornelia Bailey, University of Chicago
    Since UChicago tries to avoid recharge at all costs, we piloted Microsoft’s MCA. This allows us to directly bill clients for their subscriptions. Hear how it went.
  5. The Year in AVD – Cornelia Bailey, University of Chicago
    UChicago has had a surprising number of use cases where Microsoft’s AVD helped. Hear about the use cases, what we learned, and the cultural shifts that needed to happen.
  6. Shifting backup storage away from AWS – John Bailey, Washington University in St. Louis
    Last year, I shared how WashU was leveraging Veeam and AWS for cloud-hosted extra-regional backups. This year, I want to share a lightning talk update on that effort explaining why we are moving away from AWS S3 and adopting Wasabi cloud storage for our cloud-hosted backup storage.
  7. Cloud-Enabling the Biomedical Research Workforce – Todd Reilly, National Institutes of Health
    To date, the NIH STRIDES Initiative has facilitated access to CSPs’ standard training offerings. STRIDES has begun transitioning away from training delivery and toward workforce capacity building by enabling training programs to augment existing curricula with cloud-enabling content.
  8. NIH Cloud Lab – Rachel Malashock, National Institutes of Health Cloud Services
    Barriers to cloud adoption remain high. The new NIH Cloud Lab offering provides NIH and NIH-funded researchers with the ability to “try before they buy” via no-cost access to native cloud capabilities on AWS and GCP within secure and cost-controlled environments.
  9. Splitting the tab 300 ways – Gabriel Geise, The Pennsylvania State University
    Exploring the evolution of internal bill back at Penn State across the big three providers. From manual spreadsheets and pivot tables to serverless data warehousing, and beyond.
  10. Service Attribute Management at Scale – Sean O’Brien, Internet2
    Lessons learned by the Internet2 community through the Cloud Scorecard and Institutional Profiles projects. What do these projects have in common, what did we learn from them, and how are we applying this to better serve the research and education community to quickly assess cloud services and collaborate on adoption?

Research: Drivers of Healthcare Outcome Disparities at the Individual Level

Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, Chief Research Informatics Officer for the University of Kansas Medical Center and University of Kansas Health Services
11:00 am | Slides
Numerous studies have established that individuals in underrepresented or marginalized groups, from rural areas, or both tend to have worse healthcare outcomes. However, previous studies have often utilized county-level, or other aggregate data in order to establish these associations, in part due to the challenges associated with obtaining and working with the large volume of data that would be needed to study these issues using individual-level data. We are using cloud-based analytics, along with multiple large repositories of electronic medical record data to tackle these issues head-on. This will allow us to study how the association of underrepresented groups or residents in rural areas and health outcomes is mediated by preventable factors such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and more at the individual level. We hope this will lead us to a better understanding of health disparities based on potentially actionable data. 

Give ’em the Old Razzle DaaS-le

Christopher Manly, Cornell University
1:00 pm | Slides
One of the recurring questions in Cloud enablement discussions at Cornell has been around how to provide DevOps as a Service (DaaS). Should we build pipelines to auto-deploy containers? Should we just provide recipes and templates? The answer eluded us until a global pandemic, a financial crunch, and a conversation between some IT directors resulted in a collaborative professional services arrangement. This has grown into a service offering for campus to provide DevOps support to those departments that can’t maintain staffing and expertise in-house.

Cornell developed a professional services offering to provide DevOps as a Service (DaaS) to campus customers who could not maintain staffing and expertise in-house.

Cloud Communications: Who, What, and How

Matthew Rich, Northwestern University
1:30 pm | Slides
You’re doing a great job on the cloud, but do your stakeholders know? You’ve created resources for your users, but do they know how to find them? This talk will present a framework you can use to create a cloud communications plan for your school.

November 11 Presentations

Panel: Establishing a Higher Ed Cloud Mentorship Program

Bob Flynn, Internet2
8:30 am
The spectrum of higher ed cloud adoption runs from mature R1s to non-research institutions trying to determine if/how to get started. The power of our community is in its willingness to share our knowledge. There is enough experience in the community to develop higher-ed-aligned best practices for AWS, Azure and GCP, such as the Higher Ed GCP Adoption Guide and the Internet2 Cloud FinOps Working Group.

Once made aware of and connected to the higher ed cloud community, new schools begin to listen in to the conversation. It can be difficult, however, to step into an established community like that and ask what might be perceived as basic or beginner questions. It is far more comfortable when you can have a dedicated conversation with someone more experienced, explore the questions you know you have and learn about other questions you should be asking.

Over the years the CCCG and Internet2 have helped broker conversations between schools when they become aware of the need, but the time seems right to explore a more formal community mentorship program. This panel will bring together those seeking mentorship, those who have stepped up to provide it and those who have been involved in efforts to codify some of the best practices that inform the mentoring conversations. The goal of the panel is to brainstorm how we might formalize, incentivize, advertise and recognize such a community effort.

AWS Account Provisioning at the University of Chicago

Shelley Rossell, University of Chicago
9:15 am | Slides
In the ongoing quest to be able to view and manage AWS accounts consistently and more easily, the University of Chicago needed to migrate accounts from a legacy Organization into their own, then ultimately from an unmanaged OU to a control-tower managed OU.  This presentation describes the purpose, the process, and the results of each migration.

Cloud Forum Virtual Day 3 (assets)

Embracing Enterprise Architecture to Drive New Cloud Value

Kevin Muller, Fordham University
10:00 am | Slides
Our university dove head first into a leading-edge cloud transformation of our ERP system-of-record many years ago. Now, we are learning that our once-innovative cloud strategy requires a solid enterprise architecture foundation to continue driving new value and technology effectiveness for our organization’s future cloud strategy. We will share our story so far, exploring our successes and ‘speed bumps’.

Secure Research Initiatives Learnings

Barbara Schnell, University of Colorado Boulder
10:30 am | Slides
In order to meet increased and changing compliance requirements for our researchers, the University of Colorado has implemented a Secure Research service including O365 GCC High and a landing zone in Azure Government for research computing infrastructure. Looking forward, this summer we plan to focus on automation and leveraging compliance-oriented architectural patterns, processes and test cases for other platforms. This presentation will cover our journey, share lessons learned and share strategies on funding, staffing, and technology limitations in Azure Gov.

Research: From the Fringes to the Mainstream: How COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories Spread across Social and Mainstream Media

Axel Bruns, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society
11:00am | Slides
Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organisation has recognized an “infodemic” of mis- and disinformation, generating doubt and fear about the causes, spread, and remedies of coronavirus. Using the example of a prominent conspiracy theory relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, this presentation uses large-scale datasets to investigate the spread of such content through social and mainstream media, paying particular attention, especially to the processes by which conspiracy theories move from small-scale conspiracist communities to wider social media circulation, and from there to mainstream media coverage and substantial societal impact. In doing so, it highlights the role of celebrities and entertainment media as potential conduits for conspiracist material from fringe spaces to much greater circulation, and point to a pronounced lack of critical coverage and societally responsible journalistic gatekeeping in such “soft news” coverage. Building on this analysis, I formulate a number of key recommendations to political, media, and industry stakeholders seeking to combat the spread of mis- and disinformation.