Supply and Demand in the Cloud: Q&A with Cloud Superhero Emily Perry

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By Apryl Motley - Technical Writer & Communications Lead, Internet2 Trust and Identity/NET+ Service

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Cloud Superhero Spotlight

Editor’s Note: This conversation continues our series of interviews spotlighting the wonderful contributions that research and higher ed community members make to the NET+ Program. 

Be on the lookout for additional interviews, and email amotley@internet2.edu if there’s a Cloud Superhero you would like us to spotlight in the future. We’re grateful for all our volunteers and appreciate all they do to move our work forward.

—Sean O’Brien – Associate Vice President, NET+, Internet2

We called, and she answered. Emily Perry, software supply chain manager at the University of Arizona, serves on the NET+ Business, Procurement and Legal Advisory Council (BPLAC) and leads its recently established Vendor Management Work Group. “I was thrilled to be nominated to sit on BPLAC,” Perry said, “and then honored to be asked to lead a working group.” 

For her first few months on the council, she listened to animated discussions around vendor management and observed that this varied group of professionals were saying “vendor management,” but they were not always speaking about the same thing. 

“Since I had completed a certification on Supplier Relationship Management through World Commerce & Contracting, I had insight on this topic,” she recalled,  “and I wanted to help the community clarify the conversation.”  

Read on to learn more about Emily and her contributions to the R&E cloud community. 

Q: How does your current role involve the cloud?

EP: I am heavily involved in software contracting and vendor management for the University of Arizona. My role connects the technical aspects of cloud services and software with the procurement and legal aspects: creating efficiencies in the procurement management role, allowing space for operational staff to focus on their day-to-day needs, and maintaining a bigger picture of enterprise applications at the university. We utilize many third party cloud services, and keeping a pulse on the key vendor relationships has been essential in maturing internal services and avoiding risk to the university.

Q: How have Internet2 and NET+ helped you in your current role?

EP: As a university, the robust NET+ service catalog has helped us narrow focus on certain vendors. If we know a specific vendor is working with NET+, we have a good indicator that the vendor has a proven interest in partnering with higher education institutions.  

Personally, Internet2 has provided unmatched networking opportunities as BPLAC has given me regular touchpoints with peers at different institutions. The ongoing nature of BPLAC allows us to have in-depth discussions about similar challenges and opportunities, and those discussions have become a critical source of my own professional development. 

Q: What do you think are the greatest challenges and opportunities for research and higher ed when it comes to implementing cloud services?

EP: A major opportunity for research and higher education is the ability to pick and choose the best product for the business need. Cloud service options are constantly increasing; there are a multitude of cloud solutions from which to choose.  The challenges are finding time and resources to evaluate all the solutions, contracting with the vendor to maximize value/minimize risk, and ensuring proper change and product management during implementation. Each of these are vital to a successful go-live, ongoing effectiveness, and continued fiscal viability of the service.

Fun Facts About Emily

What You Like Most About Your Job:

My job allows me the opportunity to listen and learn from a variety of areas – technical, security, financial, risk, and procurement, so I have a holistic view of software use at the university. I really enjoy being surrounded by smart people and being able to coalesce that information to help our IT group make informed decisions.

Favorite Song or Book:

  • What Do You Do with a Chance by Kobi Yamada – it’s a children’s book, but the empowering message and beautiful illustrations make it one of my all-time favorites.
  • On the professional side, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni is one that I would happily read over and over again.

Best Advice About the Cloud Ever Received (& from whom):

Related to contracting for cloud services, Peter Frazza advises to “avoid ambiguity.” There can be ambiguous words and phrases in initial drafts of contracts, and it is important to get clarity before signing any agreement. When working with vendors, multiple internal stakeholders, and multiple departments it takes to enter into a third party agreement, it is critical that everyone is on the same page. If a term can mean more than one thing, there will be misinterpretations and/or confusion.

Q: How has volunteering benefitted you? 

EP: Volunteering has helped me gain perspective on how different universities are organized and how they function – public vs. private, small vs. large. It has enabled me to develop a large network of peers that challenge my thinking and expand my knowledge. I am able to get away from my day-to-day tasks and participate in deliberative thinking on a much larger scale. It always feels good to be part of something bigger than myself. 

Q: Why is it important to have an active and vibrant cloud community in R&E?

EP: The pace of technology change has always been fast, and as staff in higher ed IT we feel that speed in day-to-day operations, in procurement/contracting, and in partnership activities. An active and vibrant cloud community means we are connected, we foster awareness of challenges and solutions, and we inspire each other to tackle the ever-changing landscape. This type of community strengthens us as a whole to persist through this fast pace of change and stand together through challenges. 

Prior to joining the IT team at University of Arizona a little over a year ago, Emily Perry worked at Penn State for 13 years.

You can be a superhero too!

Check out current opportunities to participate in NET+ working groups, service evaluations, and service advisor boards.