Sharing Horizons That Are New to Us

Wharton Computing is in week three of the Migration Readiness and Planning (MRP) engagement with AWS. In the past two weeks I’ve sat through eighteen hours of official—get a room and set up a Bluejeans–meetings with AWS and their partners, Enquizit. Multiple meetings with Wharton Computing about the MRP engagement add another five hours to that. Antonio Vivas and Jeremy Kim are right up there with me, and they have had many more unofficial meetings, emails, and Slack messages (Slacks? Sleeks?).

So far we have had the two-hour big-picture meeting where everyone gives a perfunctory introduction. (Name, Title, Last thing we bought from Amazon. Turns out we’ve all bought something, even if, like John Piotrowski, we won’t tell anybody what it was.) That Grand Kickoff was followed by two bottom-busting two-day Workstream Kickoffs. To their credit, the consultants had detailed agendas for each meeting available in advance. And they stuck to their agendas.

The first kickoff covered Skills and the Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE). ‘Center of Excellence’ is a brilliant concept, as it uses words that sound favorable while having no informative content whatsoever. Who wouldn’t prefer a Center of Excellence to a Diffusion of Adequacy, or a Plenum of Incompetence?

The term has exploded in use , leaking over from military and academic use to the mainstream. In the context of the MRP, the Center of Excellence is the project management team.

The second kickoff covered the Landing Zone, a phrase which here means, “The place where we will move stuff to from the Vance Datacenter.” The Landing Zone is what the AWS Focus Teams have focused on for the past year. The Landing Zone is what differentiates Wharton Computing’s cloud future from the generic spin-up-your-own-website-and-database-in-the-cloud one-hour AWS project.

When someone at Wharton spins up an application for the school, many elements are in place to support that application. The web server and the database server need to be monitored in case the application goes down. If the application goes down, the right people need to be alerted so that it can be started back up. Logs need to be kept so that the responder can diagnose any problems. The server may need to be restored from a backup, or the application code may need to be pushed again. The people who are responding to the ailing application need to have appropriate training. Everything needs to be secured against malicious attacks. There should be standards on how to build an application so that each one is not a snowflake. The cost of the application needs to be allocated properly so that it gets paid for, while making sure that costs are not spiraling out of control. And, the application needs to be built so that it can run for years, with upgrades and maintenance.

All those things are in place now, for the datacenter. (Some are more fully-formed than others.) In the cloud, all those things need to be in place, but in a completely different way. Today we speak Datacenter, and we all will have to learn to speak Cloud.