La Trobe University forges ahead with cloud-first strategy

Prepares to go live with world-first SaaS deployments

La Trobe University is preparing for a number of world-firsts as it continues its cloud computing journey, the uni’s chief information officer, Peter Nikoletatos, told a Cebit conference in Sydney.

About a year ago the university was the first organisation to partner with SAP to shift its Simple Finance ERP system to the cloud. Now La Trobe is set to be the first organisation to launch SuccessFactors HR and WorkForce Time and Attendance in the cloud, the CIO said. The project is due to go live in around eight weeks, he said.

“Pretty much if you’ve got a cloud offering as one of our suppliers, I’m having this conversation with you right now: How quickly can I move to a SaaS product or a managed service product?” Nikoletatos said.

“There’s a common trend in ICT of looking at reducing your opex budget and I’m actually trying to disrupt that thinking,” the CIO said.

“I actually want to increase my opex budget – I actually want to decrease my capital budget.”

La Trobe is already running a significant portion of its applications in the cloud, including Microsoft Office 365, its CRM, its learning management system, and ServiceNow.

“We’re in the market right now for a software-defined data centre; we want to have zero data centre on premise,” the CIO said.

At the heart of is strategy is “the application of IT, not the implementation,” Nikoletatos said.

“Pretty much everything will move for us into the cloud from now onwards.”

Adopting cloud technologies does not necessarily lead to budget savings, the CIO said.

“That’s the first really strong message you have to tell your organisation – that going to the cloud actually gives you scale and speed,” he said.

For universities, the impetus for the transition to cloud is to allow a re-skilling of their workforce to cover growing gaps around supporting research and supporting the next generation of teaching and learning, the CIO said.

Where it makes sense, La Trobe will adopt a public cloud solution, Nikoletatos said. But when it comes to protecting sensitive data such as IP or students’ personal details it will look to a private or hybrid solution.

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