Higher Ed Cloud Forum: Getting Harvard’s Enterprise Systems to the Cloud

Ben Rota, Harvard

How a crisis optimized our organizational structure\

Phase One Org Structures (as seen retroactively):

February 2015 – Trying to change culture as well as technology. People had expectations that were impossible to meet. Original cloud team was drawn from infrastructure and IdM – no developers or applications people.

May 2015 – Restructured to focus on migrating a single application and supporting Public Affairs.  Successful migration, but had tension between operational work and further migrations.

June 2015 – split into multiple, smaller scrum teams to support more simultaneous projects. Lacked cohesiveness, plus operations were still killing them.

Septemer – December 2015 – team was demoralized. operational work continued to be a problem – pile of cleanup work. No ability to reduce tech debt.

December 2015 – PeopleSoft group decided that 9.2 upgrade would be done in the cloud. Cloud team didn’t have enough resources available to help, but their consultant could help.

June 2016 – PeopleSoft team realizes consultant didn’t work out. Cloud program put .5 FTE on the project.

December 2016 — peoplesoft migration at significant risk – migration team created to respond to impending crisis.

Application Portfolio Teams – co-located, cross-functional group for portfolio migration projects. How’s it going? Migrations are accelerating. PeopleSoft and Oracle Financials, Grants Management are migrated. Close to Alumni Affairs and Development system. Troubleshooting migration problems has gotten easier – co-l;ocation smooths communication. Shared goals breaks down silos.

Organization of work around HUIT managed applications run the risk of neglecting the “long tail” of smaller applications and systems. Too many product owners in the kitchen – how do you prioritize work when you have competing interests? Operational work vs. migration work is still a challenge, but now it’s more about prioritization within a team rather than across silos.  DevOps still has too many definitions! Had a day-long workshop open to all of HUIT in a facilitated discussion about what they hope to get out of this effort.


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