AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Going “All-In” on AWS: Lessons Learned from Cloud Pioneers

Increasingly, customers across the public sector are going “all-in” on the AWS Cloud. Instead of asking whether to go all-in, these pioneers asked how quickly they could do it.  Balancing the need to improve efficiency, stay agile, and meet mandates, government and education customers are committing to going all-in on AWS, meaning they have declared that AWS is their strategic cloud platform.

At last year’s re:Invent, we were lucky enough to hear from Mike Chapple, Notre Dame; VJ Rao, National Democratic Institute; Eric Geiger, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago; and Roland Oberdorfer, Singapore Post eCommerce on a panel sharing insights into their decision-making about moving all-in or cloud-first, the value they’ve seen, and the impact to the mission.

Success can be contagious

All of these organizations are at various stages on their journey to the cloud. For example, Notre Dame is a year in with a third of their services migrated, whereas, Federal Home Loan Bank is three years in and recently unplugged their last piece of on premises infrastructure. No matter the stage, they all have similar experiences, lessons learned, and a shared goal—the cloud.

After initial successes with pilot projects, such as websites or testing environments, IT teams within these organizations saw the possibilities and savings with AWS and decided to migrate more of their infrastructure to AWS. Whether it was cost savings or scalability, these quick wins showed business value and a compelling case to bring other services to the cloud.

“Look for things that are as straightforward as possible to guarantee success,” advised Mike Chapple, Sr. Director for IT Service Delivery, Notre Dame.

The feeling of success can be contagious, and because of the initial success, each of these organizations wanted to do more and more. They took the time to carefully and thoughtfully design their infrastructure or “data center in the cloud” with an AWS Solutions Architect. Getting serious from the start paid off in the long run.

They may have begun the journey by wanting to lower costs, but they continued on the journey leveraging the cloud because of the possibilities available. No longer are they constricted by budgets, scale, and compute.

Tidbits of advice on the journey

Since adopting the all-in strategy, these organizations are now realizing what is possible with the power of the cloud. But gaining buy-in was not always easy. The panel mentioned they could prove security, they can encrypt data in flight and they can encrypt at rest, but surprisingly, the biggest push back came from their own staff.

With some universities and business, tradition runs deep, and that was the case with Notre Dame, a 175-year-old institution. So going all-in on AWS required more than just initial success with a few little projects. It required storytelling, training, and education. “One of the things we’ve learned along the way is the culture change that is needed to bring people along on that cloud journey and really transforming the organization, not only convincing that the technology is the right way to go, but winning over the hearts and minds of the team to completely change direction,” Mike Chapple said.

Change happens and the cloud is the natural evolution of IT. These teams did a lot of storytelling and mapping out that this is the next logical step to move from a virtualized on premises environment to a virtualized environment in the cloud. They planned early, trusted their instincts, and told the cloud story.

Watch this panel discussion and don’t miss out on the chance to hear from some other customers who have gone all-in with AWS at one of our upcoming Summits in Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and Santa Clara. Learn more about these events here and register for the AWS Public Sector Summit on June 20-21 here.