It runs along seamlessly in the background at Ball State University. A silent, reliable, almost ethereal network infrastructure that underlies much of the university’s routines. It runs so well that it seems like it must be running locally. But it’s not.
When Ball State students sign up for class, or a professor posts grades online, or students log in to see how they did, it’s IU’s network infrastructure underlying those functions. It’s not unusual for universities to turn to cloud computing for essential digital services like this, but not all clouds are the same.
Indiana Private Cloud (IPC) is a unique cloud provider: It’s for Hoosiers, by Hoosiers. And for I-Light member Ball State, it’s all delivered through a 10G connection.
“Essentially, any system hosted at IPC looks as if it’s a system hosted here on campus, anything from course registration to payroll to financial aid to HR—you wouldn’t be able to tell whether it’s hosted here or there,” said Todd Phelps, Ball State director of enterprise computing operations.
They became the first partner with IU’s nascent cloud service after purchasing an enterprise resource planning solution (ERP) from a commercial vendor. “When Ball State first rolled out the ERP, we went with the ERP vendor to host the solution,” said Phelps. “And it wasn’t going as well as we had wanted.”
So they decided to migrate the ERP software to IU’s infrastructure.
“We started with IU back in 2012,” before IPC was called IPC, said Todd Meister, assistant VP and chief enterprise architect at Ball State. “We had about 50 systems when we went live.” This included virtual machines for a large number of Ball State’s production ERP systems, as well as dedicated virtual machines for development and testing.
Five years later, Ball State is still with IU, but now they’re running more than 150 virtual machines with IPC. “It’s really a wide variety of different services that we’re running on IPC infrastructure now, from networking devices to security servers to departmental servers running applications and file share,” said Phelps.
Partnering with IPC has reduced Ball State’s capital expenditures for hardware, as well as overhead for hardware administration. And with IU’s robust dual data centers, it’s reduced the need to manage storage or worry about disaster recovery.
“It’s just taken care of,” said Phelps. “Because they’re a fellow higher ed. institution, dealing with the same pains and situations that we experience, there’s a better understanding of how to resolve issues that are similar.”
That special understanding of its higher ed. clients’ needs and challenges is one of the reasons why IPC made InformationWeek’s Elite 100 list when it officially launched in 2016.
In Ball State’s case, it helps that I-Light connectivity makes it all a seamless experience. “It’s pretty much a direct shot through I-Light, from here to there,” he continued. “That alone is a plus for us.”