Technology Coordination: Virtual Data Center

Cloud-based infrastructure is quickly becoming the norm for many organizations. Technology such as containers, build and deploy automation, and server virtualization allow for more flexible and robust hosting and availability models both on-premises and in the cloud. ISC is forming a cross-campus working group to help coordinate and design an optimal solution or solutions, taking into consideration SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. This group will be assisted by contributions from Purchasing, Software Licensing, ISC Shared Services, ISC Security, and Privacy.

Specifically, this group will:

  • Discuss current and potential use cases for cloud data centers at Penn, taking into account the overall cloud needs of the University, both current and future
  • Discuss best practices for moving from generally CapEx data center environments to generally OpEx data center environments, with the understanding that some on-site data centers will likely be in existence for the foreseeable future
  • Discuss ways to avoid simply duplicating on-site functionality when the cloud often offers superior workflow options
  • Explore best practices for better campus interoperability and support of cloud data center solutions




  • Develop cloud data center best practices to allow for better campus interoperability and support
  • Develop a menu for when to choose a specific cloud data center provider or providers
  • Develop basic guidelines for implementing a multi-cloud strategy
  • Develop a checklist for exiting existing data centers



Process Transparency

In keeping with our portfolio management methodology, this initiative is classified as follows:





How well understood is the technology?

Moderate [2] to Well [3]

Moderate [2]

The cloud data center space is changing rapidy, but some basic directions, principles, and players are now fairly well known. Offerings and best practices will continue to evolve, but this area is worth of investigation at the University in Fiscal 2018.

How strategic/
impactful is the decision?

High [3]

High [3]

Cloud-based infrastructure is quickly becoming or has become the norm for many organizations at the University. Shared guidelines around cloud data centers have substantial potential to increase agility and reduce cost.

How urgent is the need?

Low [1] to Moderate [2]

Moderate [2]

There is currently no set of University best practices around designing, configuring, and using cloud data centers.

How broad is the interest/

High [3]

High [3]

Technology leaders from across the University rated this as one of the most urgent topics requiring attention in the Fall 2016 strategic technology coordination survey. 

How ready is the community

Moderate [2] to High [3]


Cloud-based infrastructure is quickly becoming the norm for many organizations at Penn.

Is ISC positioned in this space?

Unknown [2] to Yes [3]

Yes [3]

ISC's Cloud First efforts have involved significant experience with technologies that are directly relevant to cloud data center.