Legacy systems transformation to Terraform and GitOps

I. Challenge

Generate value from Legacy systems transformation to Terraform and GitOps. When attempting to comprehend the scope and trajectory of higher education IT
spending, the EDUCAUSE Core Data Service (CDS) is a valuable tool. It provides
information about stang and spending in higher education IT that organizations may
use as a baseline for their resource allocations.

The average central IT expenditure for the 2020–2021 fiscal year, including operating and capital expenditures, was around $7.7 million, or 4.2% of the institution’s overall spending. The average cost per student was $1,3161.
Higher Education IT Spending
Average Central IT Spending for 2020-2021
The client, a higher education institute, was spending 20% more on IT than the industry average, cutting their overall profits and making it less feasible to run educational institutions. Several loopholes needed to be addressed to cut the client’s IT spending to bring it equal to or lower than the industry average. These included technical and financial challenges.
Central Spending & Central IT Expense

a. Technical

Over the previous year and a half, the client, like most higher education institutions, experienced a roller coaster of changes and diculties. The client was looking for innovative approaches to address student and administrative needs due to variable enrolment, financial challenges, and the need to increase data protection.
A changing IT and educational landscape meant the client had to alter their learning strategies quickly, and technology modernization became necessary to keep up with the changes.
The client had to figure out how to scale up the implementation of new distance learning guidelines and hybrid models while attempting to advance missions and expand capabilities. Also, as budget and security challenges continued to affict higher education institutions worldwide, data security and financial flexibility remained significant considerations.
The potential of a network breach was ever-present for the client as they struggled to determine the appropriate modernization strategy, as ransomware assaults against colleges and universities had more than doubled since the pandemic’s start. In addition to exposing the administrators’ and students’ private information, a ransomware attack would have cost the educational Institute a lot of money.
To protect against potential threats and reduce downtime, the client needed access to the most secure systems with backup and recovery capabilities.
The client sought strategies to invest in the latest IT systems while keeping costs down and ensuring data security. Agility and flexibility were essential for achieving this. Because they enable the client to scale their remote learning capabilities up or down without undergoing major disruptions during installation, as-a-service solutions were required.
These solutions reduce the client’s financial burden by enabling them to utilize only the digital infrastructure they require at any given time.
Since the primary goal was to lower the client’s IT spending, they would benefit from inventive and adaptable infrastructure to meet current needs while working with their limited financial resources.
The company found it increasingly challenging to scale its operations as the client’s growth rocketed—many more users were using its products. It was due to the fact that the company’s most used programs, such as its learning management system, were housed in more than X data centers.
Although the solutions housed in the client’s own data centers delivered excellent customer service, size and growth increases were challenging to manage. Long delays in scaling out solutions were caused by the client’s ongoing need to acquire and deploy new hardware and, in certain circumstances, open new data centers. Instead of adding value for our clients, the client overspent on hardware administration and maintenance.

The organization needed to make sure it had the most dependable technology in place while it tried to decide the best course of action for Legacy systems transformation to Terraform and GitOps.

Finally, the client required implementing a cutting-edge data experience that could reliably support learning and teamwork in a dynamic setting.

It was necessary to provide users with a modern data experience that was easy to use, including easier management, improved security, more extraordinary performance, and lower costs. It would allow the client to concentrate on giving students a top-notch educational experience without worrying about expensive disruptions or migrations.

In other words, the client needs to invest in cutting-edge, flexible cloud solutions. It was essential to provide the best, safest learning environment for students while avoiding unsustainable IT expenses and gaining access to IT services that minimize downtime, boost performance, and are flexible enough to meet changing needs.

B. Financial

Many colleges and institutions’ IT budgets are getting tighter, so IT leaders are looking for innovative methods to cut costs without compromising their workforce numbers or the essential services they offer.
The client had to make a significant choice. Should they cut back on their IT spending, given that it was crucial to their business continuity during the epidemic and would continue to be so in the future to remain competitive? Or should they devise innovative ways to save money without sacrificing the quality of the educational experience they provide online?
The client has a large number of expensive fixed IT assets. Blended learning was required for the client to teach more students without having to construct new buildings and set up new IT laboratories. The client could reduce face-to-face seat time using digital asynchronous and synchronous learning systems.
The client had to figure out how to outsource its activities to convert fixed costs to variable costs. It meant transferring campus technology services to cloud companies instead of using its data centers.
The client had control over IT resources when the technology was run locally, but flexibility was sacrificed. To account for peak loads, assure resiliency, and guarantee the reliability, the client had to overbuild and over-spec its systems.
The client needed to become comfortable with shifting services to the Cloud, including email, learning management systems, university media, backup, etc., to only pay for the services they used.

CCT was brought in to solve the client’s technical, financial, and Legacy systems transformation to Terraform and GitOps challenges.

II. CCT Approach to Legacy Systems Transformation to Terraform and GitOps

To support hybrid working and learning to help the client lower IT spending and overcome challenges, CCT explored technology that allowed employees and students to access and use IT services from anywhere.
At the same time, the IT solution had to be flexible enough to support the client’s changing needs while featuring security, data management, disaster recovery, and business continuity capabilities. It meant finding a cost-effective, reliable IT infrastructure. Amazon Web Services (AWS) fit the bill.
CCT decided to move the client’s enterprise apps to the cloud to address the underlying issues.

a. Research

AWS was chosen as the preferred solution for the client’s challenges because it is easy to manage costs with the platform.
With AWS, institutions can avoid high input costs. Teams can use the AWS Pricing Calculator to determine operating expenses. To satisfy university budget objectives, they could also modify service plans. Pay-as-you-go choices, reserved capacity, and volume savings are all provided by AWS.
Another benefit of using AWS is that it makes it simple for university students, faculty, and staff to access shared resources, maintaining the continuity of instruction and remote work. Students can access the programs and software they require from any location using resources like Amazon AppStream 2.0 and Amazon Workspaces. AWS collaborates with academic institutions to develop voice technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning-based solutions that enable cutting-edge teaching and learning paradigms.
Lastly, AWS ensured robust cloud monitoring and security, essential to meeting a critical technical challenge for the client.
Amazon and partners, including CDW AmplifiedTM Services and Amazon CloudWatch, provide tools that collect real-time analytics. Higher education institutions are in charge of handling very private data from many different sources.
The scalability of AWS solutions doesn’t compromise security. Teams may select how actively particular services are used after setting monitoring based on established goals. Is uptime generally consistent? Is activity typical, or may it be a sign of anything malicious, such as a hack or a distributed denial of service attack?
Users can also monitor active ports, root access, and credential integrity and set up role-based access control to strengthen AWS security.

b. Methodology and Implementation

CCT helped the client overcome the challenges through Amazon Web Services (AWS) by
performing the following actions in Legacy systems transformation to Terraform and GitOps.

CCT Helped To Refactor and Migrate 350 Applications into AWS

Using AWS native features, CCT reimagined the architecture and development of the client’s apps. It was motivated by a critical business requirement to add functions, scale, or performance that would be challenging to implement in the application’s current context.
The client’s applications were migrated to AWS by CCT using the AWS Application Migration Service (MGN), a highly automated lift-and-shift (rehost) solution that sped up the process and cut costs. It made it possible for CCT to move a lot of physical, virtualized, or cloud servers without encountering compatibility problems, performance issues, or lengthy cutover windows.
Source servers from MGN were replicated into the client’s AWS account. For the client to take advantage of the cost benefits, productivity, resilience, and agility of the CloudCloud, it immediately converted and launched its servers on AWS. Lift-and-shift became a speedy path to modernization once the client’s apps were operating on AWS. They could take advantage of its services and capabilities to quickly and easily re-platform or rework those applications.
Thousands of virtual machines and numerous petabytes of data had to be moved during the migration to AWS.
The client now had the flexibility to create new features and capabilities more rapidly than it could in its data centers since its platform was being run on the AWS Cloud. Due to AWS’s global reach, the Client was also in a stronger position to quickly and inexpensively introduce its applications to new markets.
CCT can assist the client in entering emerging markets much more quickly than it could in the past by relying on AWS’s extensive global footprint and utilizing the knowledge and technology of the AWS Cloud.
It is normally a highly expensive endeavor to open new data centers in some of the international markets where the client is trying to expand. The cost of entry is significantly lower for the client because AWS is already present in numerous areas. Additionally, as the Client enters each new market, CCT can provide a high level of stability and redundancy by utilizing AWS Availability Zones.

CCT Developed AWS Landing Zones

A landing zone is an AWS infrastructure that is well-designed, multi-account, flexible, and secure. It is a place to start for the client to quickly develop and deploy workloads and applications while feeling confident in their infrastructure and security setup.
To create a landing zone, it was necessary to make technical and business selections on account structure, connectivity, safety, and access control that were consistent with the client’s long-term growth and business goals.
By developing core accounts and the resources necessary to monitor several accounts, CCT’s AWS Landing Zones completely streamlined the setup procedure. The process’s elements included logging, identity and access management, governance, network design, and data security.

CCT Performed System Security Planning

For the Client, CCT developed a System Security Plan that offered a systematic approach and techniques for preventing the use of the Client’s Systems by unauthorized individuals, protected against virus infections and worms as well as any other incident/event/process that could adversely impact the security of the underlying system.

CCT Helped the Client Ensure Regulatory Compliance

Higher education institutions must increasingly adhere to numerous federal and state regulations focusing on data privacy and protection.
If a higher education institution establishes a university-wide IT compliance framework to assure high compliance with multiple applicable federal and industry standards, the possible overlap of effort in achieving these criteria can be avoided. CCT implemented an IT infrastructure and IT solutions that allowed the client to ensure compliance with the applicable standards by providing data privacy and protection.

CCT Helped the Client to Close 4 Data Centers

CCT began by transferring many of the Learn clients of the Company to AWS, utilizing a number of crucial services, including Amazon Lambda, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elasticache, Amazon Elasticsearch, and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS).
Later, the company used a similar technological footprint to transfer additional components of its Educational platform. The client was able to close four data centers as a result.
The client had to pay for and manage the physical infrastructure that was housed in four data center facilities before migrating to AWS. By migrating the client applications and IT infrastructure, CCT allowed the client to close the data centers, helping to eliminate a sizable operational cost for the client that added to the IT costs.

CCT Helped the Client Identify a Source to Buy Obsolete Legacy IT Equipment Liquidator

Inventory that a company does not think it can utilize or sell because there isn’t enough demand is referred to as obsolete inventory, also known as “excess” or “dead” inventory. After a predetermined period, inventory often reaches the end of its useful life and becomes obsolete.
The client had a lot of obsolete legacy IT equipment, and it was vital to get rid of it since it added to the client’s expense. CCT helped the client by identifying a source to buy and liquidate their legacy IT equipment, thus helping the client reduce costs.

III. Outcomes

The platform of the Client, which is housed in AWS, offers its users the finest user experience, enabling educators and students worldwide to succeed. The client has been able to accomplish these objectives thanks to AWS, which also provides the client the freedom to expand and develop its educational platform in order to offer more connected experiences and data-driven insights as market demands change. The following outcomes resulted from actions mentioned above taken by CCT to help the client overcome their technical and financial challenges.

a. Immediate Profitability

The client benefited from technological advancements by relying on AWS to manage its technology infrastructure since it no longer had to figure out how to create, deploy, and manage data centers on its own. Therefore, by migrating the client’s IT infrastructure to AWS, CCT significantly reduced the client’s IT spending and costs, helping the client see an immediate increase in profitability.

b. Interoperability

CCT assisted the customer in achieving industry-compliant communications and interoperability by minimizing data silos. The CCT-provided interoperability solutions allowed the client to safely share information, enhancing productivity and elevating the educational experience.

c. Shed Of Technical Debt

Technical debt is a metaphor that describes the accumulation of code quality issues that make it challenging to adapt code for new features. The additional work needed to introduce new features due to these code flaws is comparable to the interest you pay on a debt. The technical debt is what CCT helped the client to shed.
The Client won’t have to worry about constructing, provisioning, and maintaining data centers on its own and may benefit from technological advancements because it can rely on AWS to handle its technology infrastructure. AWS constantly promotes innovation and offers a reliable infrastructure to support our current solutions, which the Client may employ to further enhance its platform.

d. Shed Of Unnecessary Licensing

CCT helped the client to avoid a lot of unnecessary licensing that it would have needed to continue to host its servers and other IT assets in a physical data center.

e. Open Source for Legacy systems transformation to Terraform and GitOps

Given that its design is made available to the public, open source is a decentralized production paradigm that enables anybody to contribute and change technology. The ideal place for users to create and use open-source software in the Cloud has always been Amazon Web Services (AWS).
By utilizing these advantages afforded by AWS, the client has been able to concentrate more intently on its primary goals, which are to assist in enhancing learning across the globe by cost-effectively reaching millions of students globally and to work with the education community in quickly expanding and changing technological landscape.