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Continuing developments in cloud computing and server virtualization have created new opportunities for universities to dramatically increase the resilience of their critical information systems. These two technologies represent a powerful new IT trend that is also accompanied by new risks that are not always obvious.

Developing IT strategies that incorporate cloud-based services (such as Email, File Storage, LMS, etc…) can greatly increase the resilience of universities by relocating these services to another geographic region. However, existing regulations and policies for data security and retention are not always compatible with otherwise attractive cloud-based solutions. Knowing the right questions is the critical pre-requisite to choosing the right cloud-based solution.

Server virtualization is usually adopted for the potential cost savings. Unfortunately, this sometimes results in less reliable systems. The cause is very simple. It is much easier and less expensive to deploy server virtualization in a non-redundant fashion. This increases the risk of outages due to single points of failure. The loss of a single physical server that hosts a single application results in the loss of that application. If that same physical server is hosting a dozen virtual servers, then the loss is greatly multiplied. Redundant virtual infrastructures do no incur this risk. In fact, they increase resilience by eliminating the dependence of any application to a single piece of hardware, while still providing significant cost savings.