How Xavier University of Louisiana’s migration to AWS is creating a “technology renaissance”
Based in New Orleans, Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) is the only historically Black and Catholic institution in the United States. As a nationally recognized leader in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and health sciences fields, the university produces more African American students who graduate from medical schools each year than any other university in the country. New Orleans is an important part of XULA’s legacy – but New Orleans is particularly vulnerable to hurricanes. University leaders knew that housing important data onsite in servers left the university vulnerable to a complete shutdown in the event of a power outage or hurricane.
In 2022, XULA’s chief information officer (CIO), Dr. Mable Moore, launched XULA’s journey to future-proofing the university with the cloud. She knew modernizing the university’s technology could help improve the security of the university, improve business continuity, and solve the unique challenges of the university’s location. Working together with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Partners Strata Information Group and VMware, XULA migrated over 90 percent of its critical systems to the cloud, boosted its cybersecurity posture, and reduced IT costs. Learn more about their migration journey, and read the full case study, “How this unique and growing New Orleans university is experiencing a ‘technology renaissance.’”
Future-proofing university operations by migrating to AWS
Dr. Mable Moore has been XULA’s vice president of technology administration and CIO for the past five years, and has a 30-year career in technology and higher education leadership. Upon starting the role, one of her top priorities was modernizing XULA’s systems and platforms. The university IT infrastructure had not been updated or improved since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “When I first arrived in 2019, the IT infrastructure had been neglected,” says Moore.
XULA began their cloud journey in the fall of 2022, which became critically important when Hurricane Ida caused the university to lose power in their server rooms and the backup generators didn’t come on like they were supposed to, which left the university vulnerable to a shutdown in a power outage. Also, the university experienced a series of cybersecurity incidents, including a major one in the fall of 2022. Moore knew that migrating to a cloud-based infrastructure would mean their systems and data would be much more secure.
With AWS and AWS Partner Strata Information Group (SIG) helping to migrate critical applications to the cloud, and VMware, another AWS Partner, migrating data, the university today has about 90 percent of critical systems running in the cloud. “We now have everything that we need to operate fully remotely if we need to,” she says. And, the university has experienced significant benefits of the migration in many ways.
University migration benefits, from security to cost savings
“We have spent the past four years taking Xavier’s technology to a new level,” says Moore. “From my perspective, it has been a total technology renaissance.” This renaissance started with a meeting in 2021 between Moore and AWS about migrating the university’s website to the cloud, and the relationship has evolved ever since. Moore says now their systems are much more secure from a cybersecurity perspective.
There was also an immediate cost savings from the migration. Moore says that the university saw financial savings right away – nearly $700,000 in savings – and continues to benefit. After reducing its server footprint by 85%, the university no longer has to maintain as many servers on premise or spend as much on ongoing maintenance and upgrades of servers and software.
The new infrastructure also saves staff members time. Instead of maintaining servers, university staff can better support the XULA community and its growing number of students. Enrollment has been growing by 100-200 students each year, and the university is planning construction of a new residence hall.
“We continue to learn more about the advantages of the cloud and are looking at other opportunities for cost savings and improved efficiency,” says Moore. “We’re excited for the future.”
To read the full case study, download “How this unique and growing New Orleans university is experiencing a ‘technology renaissance.’”
Read more about AWS for higher education:
- How Hartnell College recovered critical systems using AWS after a cyber attack
- How National University worked with AWS Partner ConcernCenter to provide scalable, customizable mental health support
- Higher education cloud financial planning: A former CFO’s perspective
- The top 3 innovation drivers in higher education in 2023
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