AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

20x: More Mission for the Money at UMUC

After hearing from our nonprofit and government customers over the last month (NGA, Quorum, and MPAC), we want to share a story from the education world explaining how University of Maryland University College (UMUC) was able to save $500,000 annually and see 20x performance increase by building a new analytics platform using Amazon Redshift.

UMUC’s mission is to educate working adults, many of whom juggle full-time jobs, family responsibilities and, often, military service around the world. It is the largest public, online university in the United States, offering more than 95 career-relevant programs in some of today’s most in-demand fields. To meet the needs of their busy students, UMUC launched a big-data strategy aimed to power IT infrastructure and run analytical platforms. The result was significant cost savings and a major cultural shift in their organization.

Like many companies and universities, UMUC relied mostly on legacy applications. However, when it came time to upgrade and refresh these applications, they saw the market moving to the cloud because of the many benefits it offered. A wide product set, ability to scale, and pace of innovation led UMUC to choose AWS for the cloud. By using AWS, UMUC improved the performance of its analytics platform by twentyfold and enabled its engineers to focus on building new applications instead of managing IT infrastructure. The university now runs both academic and administrative functions on AWS services including:

From Administrators to Engineers

Security concerns are a major priority for all universities. They must manage student data and know who has access and how they have access to that data. According to UMUC, security and compliance should not be a barrier to moving to the cloud. Rather, it is a strategic reason to make the move.

“The security that AWS has in place is more far-reaching, rigorous, and thought out than any company or university could do themselves,” said Darren Catalano, vice president of analytics at UMUC.

With security in the forefront, UMUC also looked at cost savings. The price-value proposition they get from Amazon RedShift is “incredible” and they are leveraging not only cost savings, but also a host of performance gains compared to their expensive legacy applications.

A major shift in the organization since moving to the cloud has been transitioning employees from administrators to engineers. They have moved from “racking and stacking” to “monitoring and building” applications. Employees are moving up in the value chain by performing value-added tasks. From an IT perspective, the benefits are less about the cost savings and more about no longer dealing with the headaches of disaster recovery, back-up, and administration.

AWS allows UMUC to be innovative, scalable, cost effective, and game changing, and they are at the forefront of technology benefiting both their students and their faculty.

To learn more about how AWS can help your big data needs, visit our Big Data details page: http://aws.amazon.com/big-data/.