September 01, 2011, 11:20 AM — University of Kentucky CIO Vince Kellen is considering moving some of the university's SAP work to a cloud environment, which would make him a relatively early adopter of ERP in the cloud.
Kellen didn't have to go into too much detail about his motivations for trying a cloud service when he spoke at the VMworld annual conference here. Like most publicly supported institutions and governments, cutting costs has become paramount.
Kentucky runs SAP and has been operating a Unix system environment. Part of this change also involves migrating off the Unix system and the database it is running on (Kellen didn't want to identify the vendor he is moving off on) to Microsoft SQL and x86 hardware, he said in an interview.
Earlier this year, Microsoft and SAP said they have started to work together to ease cloud deployments .
The plan is to run about 60% of the ERP systems at the university, which has 250 IT employees, in the cloud. That will include testing and development and peak processing, particularly around class registration periods, he said. "It's very feasible," said Kellen, who has been double checking his business case.
Security is another issue but Kellen seems confident it won't be a barrier. "Chances of a vendor running a large complex data center with tons of other customers and having good security practices better than your own, is probably high - especially if you are small shop like we are," he said.
University officials have been supporting the ERP in the cloud idea but also said it can't result if any service changes or latency, Kellen said. "If it's not invisible to [campus users], we're not doing this," he said.
Kellen estimates saving of $1.5 million over three years, which also includes freeing up some of IT staff to work on other projects.