University Web Site Moves to the Cloud
As the Irish packed their bags for South Beach, there was another move taking place on campus. The University website (nd.edu), one of Notre Dame’s primary means of communicating with the Notre Dame family and the world, was preparing to move into the cloud.
A joint effort between the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) and University Communications resulted in the decision to migrate the Notre Dame website to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) system. Since January 3, visitors to the Notre Dame website are now being served by systems located in three separate Amazon.com data centers. The University benefits in four ways from this move:
• Automatic scalability—the website will automatically increase its capacity based on increased visitor traffic. The BCS National Championship caused traffic to nd.edu to spike to five times its normal level, and the Amazon infrastructure automatically added more servers to meet the increased demand, and then removed those servers once traffic returned to normal levels.
• Increased availability—the main web pages and key components of the list (i.e., emergency.nd.edu) are published from three different AWS data centers in the eastern region. This ensures nd.edu will keep working if services at any one data center or here at Notre Dame were to become unavailable.
• Simplicity—AWS provides simple access to highly complex information technology, allowing University Communications and OIT staff to spend their time on other areas that add value.
• Cost savings—When the AWS system automatically adds needed capacity, the University only is charged for capacity actually used. This prevents the University from having to purchase hardware for peak demand levels that only happen occasionally.
If you didn’t notice the change, you’re not alone – the experience for anyone visiting nd.edu is exactly the same. Both University Communications and the OIT are pleased with the success of this project. The nd.edu move to Amazon Web Services is a first step in a cloud strategy that will identify ways to leverage cloud-based technologies to enhance University systems and services.