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Hitachi Forges Clear Path to the Cloud for Higher Education



Leading higher education software provider, Ellucian, needed to migrate its extensive portfolio of applications to the cloud to better serve customers’ ever-evolving needs.



Based on a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) framework built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Hitachi Vantara cloud services automated key aspects of the software integration and testing life cycle. This approach saved millions in operational costs and drove cloud application innovation and adoption.

About Ellucian

Ellucian is the worldwide leader of software and services designed for higher education. The company has been in business for more than 40 years and serves more than 2,400 institutions in 40 countries across the globe.

Ellucian’s Cloud Story

As a market leader, Ellucian began offering cloud-based solutions to accommodate institutions that wanted a path to the cloud. With the general industry trend of increased cloud adoption, the company was considering all options to deploy its industry-leading software to help transition its portfolio of applications to the cloud.

A proof-of concept AWS Test Drive of Ellucian’s flagship product was conducted. The cloud services team quickly converted the VMware image, and within days stood up its application in two different AWS regions in Virginia and Sydney, Australia. This proved that the team could reliably operate on AWS, run failover to multiple continents, and run the application with a tablet.

On the back of this success, Ellucian began to engage Hitachi Vantara business consulting services. These services would provide a thorough business case justification and return on investment (ROI) analysis of moving into the AWS Cloud.

After the consulting team provided the assessment report, which had a solid business case with multimillion-dollar savings estimates, Ellucian’s management team approved the shift in direction to move its application to AWS.

Based on the companies’ shared success, Ellucian engaged the consulting team to evaluate and transform its deployment and integration to adopt a cloud-based agile engineering DevOps process.

The solution needed to take into consideration that Ellucian has over 80 different product lines deployed all over the world, across multiple continents, leveraging multiple technologies (Microsoft SQL Server, Java, Oracle, open source and so forth), with an intent to deploy to multiple endpoints (hybrid, on-premises, AWS, private cloud and so forth). It was an ambitious project to develop a framework that would need to have the flexibility and agility to support all of these variables.

The team developed a CI/CD software delivery pipeline framework for DevOps (see Figure 1), built on AWS. It not only addresses those challenges, but also takes into account the future needs of Ellucian’s cloud adoption model. This framework is now being rolled out across all of its product lines, with the support of AWS ProServe team.

One of the things that is really key about the company that interested me is: They can bring the right people. I would definitely recommend them as a good partner of mine. I would recommend AWS to others as well, because I really feel like they have the most Innovative Cloud over there.

– Brian Knotts SVP, Chief Research Scientist, Ellucian

The Current Solution

The team supported Ellucian by developing a comprehensive CI/CD pipeline with applications running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). The solution leverages many AWS services, including AWS Cloud Formation, Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Elastic Container Service, and scaling with Jenkins, to coordinate all of the phases of the integration and testing life cycle.

The solution can be tailored to leverage both the AWS code deployment services or open source tools running on Amazon EC2. In this case, it used Vagrant by Hashicorp to create the development environments. It used Jenkins to run the continuous integration and manage the CI/CD, Apache Maven to run builds, and Artifactory to store binaries and libraries. It also used Docker to create application containers and Terraform to deploy the infrastructure to multiple environments using one configuration file. Further, the solution employs Ansible, in addition to EC2 user data, to bootstrap the application servers, as well as Packer to build release candidates, as both Amazon Machine Images and virtual machine (VM) images using one configuration file.

CI/CD delivery pipeline for DevOps

The Benefits

Ellucian has been able to use the solution, built on AWS, to deploy new code that has automatically been tested and deployed as updated machine images that can be used in multiple end environments. Furthermore, Ellucian has benefited from the use of AWS and the Hitachi Vantara cloud services pipeline solution to innovate its portfolio of applications. This effort has saved operational costs from an on-premises data center, as well as increased the innovation and value of the firm by allowing deployment of new features faster and with better quality.

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