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University Cloud at Pace – written by Steve Halliday

Good things come in threes and Birmingham City University (BCU) has just delivered three significant projects in record time. All in the cloud.

Good things come in threes and Birmingham City University (BCU) has just delivered three significant projects in record time. All in the cloud.

What can we learn from that?

Firstly we have learned that complex changes can be delivered quickly if you focus on the minimum viable product. Secondly, cloud solutions and migration techniques are maturing and becoming easier. And finally, we learn that BCU is going places! Well, we kind of knew that already, but its good to re-learn. The three cloud implementations are staff e-mail, our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and Oracle cloud ERP.

Email in 55 days. We recently decided to migrate staff email to the cloud. Student email has been delivered from Microsoft’s 365 cloud for some time, but staff email has been hosted on-premise. That was causing issues with other cloud migrations and created some risk, so we decided to change that. We made the decision, went to the market for a partner, signed up with ANS Group and 55 working days later, we have migrated all 5,345 staff email mailboxes to the Microsoft cloud.

VLE in 52 days. Previously, we migrated Moodle and Mahara, our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), from an on-premise solution to an externally hosted “Cloud” provision from CoSector. The VLE is the lifeblood of a modern university, with courses, videos, reading lists, online essay submissions and so much more. We wanted to ensure the student experience is as reliable as possible and external hosting provides us with vastly improved resilience. It took just 52 days to make the decision, agree the procurement, resolve the contract, fix some technical showstoppers and migrate to CoSector.

Oracle ERP in 12 months. We also have delivered Oracle’s Finance and HR Cloud ERP system in just under a year. This was a migration from separate legacy systems, with a revised chart of accounts and challenging data migration for a relatively large organisation. This gives us access to world class business solutions that we can drive transformative benefits from over the coming years. With ongoing support from Oracle Consulting, our Oracle cloud journey continues, with Payroll due to go live later in 2019.

So that’s one for the back-office, one for the customer front-office and one from across the office. Our technical staff, users, partners, project managers and sponsors have all worked wonders to achieve this. Too many to mention you all, but Tahir Yousaf, Lee Bingham, Lilia Pegg and Matt Peers all deserve special mention. Well done to all of you and your teams.

Of course, there is more to come from BCU, as the strategic direction to cloud continues to gather pace. “One to watch”.