Cloud Computing for Non Profits
Client: Educational Testing Service (ETS)
Challenge: The ability to provision large amounts of computing power on a periodic basis by transforming the IT infrastructure into an on-demand environment.
Solution: CloudCompute, a VMware vCloud Datacenter Service, offered in the CSC Trusted Cloud.
Results: ETS is beginning to achieve a more agile IT operation with the ability to pursue new business opportunities faster, reduce capital spending and improve flexibility.
by Jim Battey
For the world’s largest administrator of standardized tests, cloud computing is making the grade. CSC’s on-demand cloud offerings are supporting Educational Testing Service's (ETS) cyclical computing needs to help the non-profit pursue new business opportunities much faster.
ETS develops and administers more than 50 million achievement and college admissions tests each year. CSChas provided infrastructure outsourcing support to ETS since 2001, so when the company was ready to expand its cloud capabilities, they turned to us to utilize cloud computing for their non profit.
An organization’s workload dictates the type of enterprise cloud needed. At ETS, the workloads vary in bursts of intense computing activity. Some tests, such as exit exams for high school students, are administered only once a year, meaning ETS needs access to large amounts of compute power in a narrow window.
Flexibility on demand
Cloud computing’s flexible, on-demand availability and pricing are increasingly desirable to organizations. Dan Wakeman, ETS’s vice president and chief information officer, says, “During our cyclical periods, we need a lot more on-demand infrastructure and the ability to get them up very quickly, but only for a very short period of time.”
Using cloud solutions, non profits are able to set up computing resources quickly and take them down just as fast. Plus, the ability to deliver capabilities at lower costs enables companies to respond to new business opportunities faster. For ETS, it means an increasing capacity to pursue expansion in emerging markets.
“Like all IT organizations, our strategy is fundamentally to provide the highest level of service at the lowest level of cost,” says Wakeman. “One of the ways we are investing to lower costs is to have a more flexible infrastructure — something that is more on-demand than what we have today.”
Siki Giunta, CSC’s global vice president, Cloud Computing Services, adds, “ETS now has an IT model that is better aligned to their consumption model. With a managed cloud, they’re consuming infrastructure [as a service], which allows them to respond to new business opportunities quickly. For an agile and innovative company like ETS, cloud is a perfect delivery model.”
ETS is using CloudCompute, a VMware vCloud Datacenter Service offered in the CSC Trusted Cloud, which provides the rapid response, security and economics ETS’s business requires.
Focusing on business, not IT
Headquartered in Princeton, N.J., ETS employs more than 2,800 people. The company is involved in testing at 9,000 locations in 180 countries, generating revenues exceeding $1 billion annually.
ETS’s focus is on conducting research and developing and rapidly scoring tests — not the implementation of advanced IT. Wakeman says, “If you’re going to build your own private cloud that has secure cloud capabilities, and you want to do that on your own, you’ve got to bring a whole bunch of vendors and technologies together and figure out how to make it all work.
There’s an enormous amount of stuff you have to do that we don’t have the skills or time for.” But by embracing cloud, ETS can pursue its goal of transforming IT infrastructure investments from a capital expense to an ongoing operating expense.
“From a pure business perspective, if you’re trying to match your expense to your income, you definitely don’t want to buy infrastructure that will be sitting all year long as a fixed cost,” Wakeman says. “With a more on-demand environment we can access the capacity we need in the same quarter as we expect to collect revenues — we can align spending with income.”
Another attribute of CSC’s cloud attractive to ETS is our straightforward rate card. Wakeman says ETS used a different provider for its first attempt at cloud computing, but the pricing of those services was complicated. He never knew exactly what they were paying for.
Still, Wakeman emphasizes, “To me, the real savings are in the speed with which we can get the work done. We can simply add capacity as we need it.” For example, ETS development teams typically wait months to get staging, testing and development environments set up. With cloud, the goal is for them to set up those environments in days, even hours.
In addition to its virtualized development and test environments, ETS has deployed more than 600 servers, with an average server utilization of approximately four to seven percent. The company looks to reduce the number of necessary servers by at least 30 to 40 percent using CSC’s cloud solutions.
JIM BATTEY is a writer for CSC's corporate office.