Seattle University Partners with Slalom to Improve Decision Making with AWS

Slalom is an APN Premier Consulting Partner with AWS Competencies in Data & Analytics, DevOps, Mobile, Migration, Government, Financial Services, Education, Microsoft Workloads, and Machine Learning

University Seeks Agility and Scalability

Seattle University is the largest independent university in the Northwest US and supports more than 7,500 students in eight schools. As part of a new program called InformSU, the university sought to expand its reporting capabilities and to consolidate critical student, human resources, and financial data from disparate sources. “We had an aging, on-premises data warehouse that wasn’t giving us the agility or scalability we needed,” says Mark Young, director of enterprise architecture at Seattle University. “Because we were moving to a DevOps model overall, we wanted to be able to move faster and produce analytical reports faster.”

Building a Data Warehouse on Amazon Redshift

For assistance, Seattle University turned to Slalom, a modern consulting firm based in Seattle. As a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN), Slalom is dedicated to driving innovation on the AWS Cloud. The company has more than 400 AWS certifications and AWS Competencies in Data & Analytics, DevOps, Education, Financial Services, Government, and Machine Learning.

Slalom works closely with Amazon Web Services (AWS) on engagements with customers to ensure they can move seamlessly to the AWS Cloud. “We build long-term relationships with our customers, and we strive to be a trusted advisor,” says Brian Mouracade, solution principal for Slalom. “It’s great to engage with AWS because it’s a company that matches our mission and how we work. By working alongside AWS, we can more easily help our clients determine how AWS can help them take advantage of the many benefits of the cloud, such as agility and scalability.”

In support of InformSU, Slalom worked with Seattle University to help the school move its data warehouse to the AWS Cloud. Slalom led the team through the creation of a new data warehouse service, based on Amazon Redshift, that is the central repository of information from across the university. After completion of the engagement with Slalom, Young collaborated with the Seattle University Business Intelligence team on refining the architecture using the new DevOps model.

Student data, as well as human resources and financial information, flows into Amazon Redshift. More than 700 users throughout the university access the solution through Microsoft Power BI, a business intelligence application that acts as a self-service analytical tool.

InformSU users have enhanced access to data through Amazon Redshift. The school’s business users rely on the solution to create reports and schedule them to run automatically, as well as access dashboards with updated financial data. The solution integrates dozens of data sources, including its Colleague ERP system.

Creating Analytical Reports in Hours Instead of Days

Using the new Amazon Redshift–based solution, Seattle University can build analytical reports faster than it could with its previous on-premises solution. “We can now produce financial reports in hours instead of days,” Young says. “With faster reporting capabilities, our teams can create data models much faster, and we can adjust the data faster as well.”

"We can access more data, in a faster time frame, by running our data warehouse on AWS. As a result, we can make better decisions about the university’s budgets, including where we’re going to be in the upcoming fiscal year and how to plan for future fiscal years.”

- Mark Young, Director of Enterprise Architecture at Seattle University

Making Better-Informed Business Decisions

With its new data warehouse, Seattle University can improve financial decision making. “We can access more data, in a faster time frame, by running our data warehouse on AWS,” says Young. “As a result, we can make better decisions about the university’s budgets, including where we’re going to be in the upcoming fiscal year and how to plan for future fiscal years.” By the end of 2020, Seattle University expects to offer additional analytics services and will ingest data into Amazon Redshift from other major data sources, such as Canvas LMS and Slate CRM.

Enabling Greater Agility

Seattle University now has increased agility for its development team. “If we need compute or storage resources to support a new initiative, we can quickly spin up environments on AWS without having to invest in new infrastructure,” says Young.

With greater agility, the university will be able to more easily roll out projects in the future. “Beyond InformSU, we have additional AWS Cloud efforts planned,” says Young. “What we learned by partnering with Slalom on this solution implementation will help us move faster to make those efforts become reality. For example, we've already developed new coding methods for further automating our processes around new account, security, and network creation based on what we've gained from this project.”

About Seattle University

Seattle University is a Jesuit university located in Seattle, Washington. The largest independent university in the Northwest US, the school has more than 7,500 students in undergraduate and graduate programs across eight schools.

About Slalom

Slalom is a modern consulting firm focused on strategy, technology, and business transformation. The company’s 7,000 employees work in 31 markets across the US, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Slalom is a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network.

Published December 2019