Cloud First FAQs



What is the cloud?


Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. It is more than simply using someone else’s data center, building on-premises virtualization capability, or shifting to managed services for applications. The cloud offers a radically different approach. It provides us with the opportunity, perhaps even the mandate, to transform our organizations from builders of unique solutions to providers of IT services.


Cloud services are commodities. Ranging from infrastructure building blocks to full application suites, cloud services benefit from economies of scale through common, integrated solutions that meet the needs of many customers. By offering their products on a global scale, cloud service providers are able to drive efficiency and develop innovative solutions in an unprecedented manner. Acting on our own, or as a consortium, higher education institutions simply do not have the financial or human resources to compete in this increasingly commoditized market. (Back to Top)


What are the benefits to cloud computing?


Embracing the public cloud offers us an opportunity to provide a higher level of IT service to the Notre Dame community. The capacity, resilience, agility, pricing models and staff development opportunities found in the public cloud offer unprecedented opportunity for improving the service provided to campus. (Back to Top)


Is the cloud secure?


AWS provides more comprehensive security features than we have ever had available to secure our data and applications. AWS has built in firewalls, private subnets, VPNs, end-to-end encrypted data transmission, Identity access controls with multi-factor authentication, fine grain access policies on almost every AWS resource, logging and auditing of almost every action, and the list goes on…. To ensure the highest levels of security and compliance AWS has at least 18 compliance programs including PCI, HIPAA, FERPA, SOC (Formerly SAS 70). (Back to Top)


What is Amazon Web Services (AWS)?


Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a collection of IT services that are available for on-demand use.  Instead of constructing a data center containing physical servers, AWS represents the ability for customer to create private data centers within AWS’ physical footprint. (Back to Top)


Why did we choose AWS as our cloud partner?


AWS has been the industry leader since 2006, according to reports from Gartner, Forrester, and 451 Research.  AWS's focus on the customer, pace of innovation, and consistent ability to deliver makes it the clear choice.

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What is SaaS? Software as a Service (SaaS)


The capability provided to the consumer is to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure . The applications are accessible from various client devices through either a thin client interface, such as a web browser (e.g., web-based email), or a program interface. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user specific application configuration settings.  examples:  Google Apps, Sakai,, Concur, TouchNet, CrashPlan (Back to Top)


What is  PaaS? Platform as a Service (PaaS)


The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly configuration settings for the application-hosting environment.  Example - Cold Fusion (Back to Top)


What is IaaS? Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)


The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, and deployed applications; and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls). (Back to Top)


Will I be able to get to my information as easily as I can now?


Yes. OIT’s new data center in Amazon is a high speed network that gives performance similar to our existing data centers. (Back to Top)


Can I get to my information off campus?


Yes. The security rules that govern access to data in AWS are the same as our current data centers. For example, if access to data requires that you are on campus or use a special VPN, then that same requirement exists in AWS.

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Will I need additional technical skills?


If you are an application administrator, no new skills are required.  The closer you work with infrastructure, the greater your need will be for AWS-specific knowledge. Training opportunties such as AWS Essential and Architecting on AWS are available.  For more information visit our training page. (Back to Top)


How long does it take to add/move something in the cloud?


AWS allows us to streamline and automate many processes involved in creating or deploying IT services. The building blocks of services like compute, storage, networking have all been “templated” in AWS. This allows rapid deployment of services. Often servers can be built in hours or even minutes. The technical part of moving something to AWS is becoming faster and easier, often measured in days and soon hours. However, the administration, validation, and user coordination components result in full deployment or migration of a service usually taking a couple of weeks. (Back to Top)

Will the application look different after moving to the cloud?


The application will not change. Applications will not look or behave differently because of AWS. Our new data center in AWS is simply a place to run the applications. Of course, applications evolve independently of where they are run, so any changes are the result of the Application vendor evolving their product. (Back to Top)