Melbourne Business School (MBS) programs are regularly ranked among the best in the world, with alumni including the CEOs and chairpersons of Qantas, Telstra, Australia Post and the AFL.\nA pioneer in business education \u2013 it offered the country\u2019s first MBA and executive education programs \u2013 its pursuit of innovation continues to this day. In keeping with this ethos and to meet the growing expectations of academics and students, around three years ago, MBS crafted a strategy which would see most applications transferred from its on premises datacentre to the cloud.\nThe agenda is now well underway, with the last \u201cfoundational element\u201d of the transformation \u2013 a cut over to Microsoft Dynamics 365 \u2013 expected to be completed by the end of the year.\n \nMore than just a lift and shift, the approach has been to \u201cmove and improve\u201d explains MBS chief information officer Darren Morris.\n\u201cYou can take it as was and do the easiest migration possible, a lift and shift. Or say how are we going to go into this next place, and organise ourselves better?\u201d he told CIO Australia.\n \n\u201cWe've really looked at why we need to make the change and try and make sure that what we build in the future is more sustainable in the long term, more adaptable and improves our ability to deliver the change to the business over time,\u201d he added.\nMove and improve\n \nOver many years, the school\u2019s on premises computing infrastructure had expanded, to support a growing number of tightly coupled applications.\n \n\u201cThe way the systems had been built had been very much point to point,\u201d Morris said.\n \nDarren Morris, Melbourne Business School chief information officer\nAs a result, introducing changes to one system would impact those around it, meaning \u201cmassive amounts\u201d of testing was required to ensure stability, no matter how trivial the change. Optimising a workflow or changing a process was far more complex than it should be. There were other downsides, Morris said.\n\u201cThe more bespoke we were, the more we\u2019d built unique to our own environment, the more hooked we were to particular providers,\u201d he said.\n \nTo support the move and improve the plan, Morris and his team of 15 IT professionals have adopted Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Azure. Email is already in the cloud as is HR, finance and the learning management systems. File storage and Sharepoint migrations are underway, and a Dynamics migration is planned in coming months.\n \nAs part of the strategy, MBS\u2019s four separate data warehouses \u2013 first built about five years ago on SQL Server 2012 \u2013 are being moved to Azure.\n \nSitecore \u2013 used to manage the school\u2019s public facing websites \u2013 is also being transitioned to Azure.\n \n\u201cWe built that as a full dev ops delivery pipeline so that we've got our redundancy and we get all the benefits of being in the cloud.But we've also implemented the dev ops strategies of continuous integration and delivery, to give us the resilience that we need,\u201d said MBS\u2019 applications manager Paul Beaumont.\n \n\u201cIt's our most significant public facing presence in terms of our website and it's where news and events and how we present ourselves to the world. And we know we can rebuild it from script, should we need to. So, we've got the disaster recovery handled, whereas in our previous scenario, we probably would've been in a disaster, out for days potentially. Now our worst-case scenarios are in the hours mark,\u201d he said.\n \nA microservices layer is now being installed between the current on premises Dynamics instance and Microsoft Azure in preparation for the migration to Dynamics 365.\n \nInfrastructure manager Pete Russell said the team is already benefiting from the enhanced security of Microsoft 365, particularly the reporting features around Azure Identity Protection.\n \nMelbourne Business School\n\u201cSecurity is another of our driving factors for the shift to cloud, firstly to protect clients but also reputation with data breaches being brought to media attention. Our aim is to prevent and detect compromised accounts as early as possible. Microsoft\u2019s tools available under Office 365 under A5 provides this capability,\u201d he said.\n\u201cWe are currently moving towards MDM via Intune to build the platform to fully exploit Azure Rights Management. This is part of a coordinated strategy to protect information at all locations,\u201d Russell added.\nSome items will remain on premise, Russell explained.\n \n\u201cIt would be absolute utopian for us to be 100 per cent cloud and decommission Active Directory and all that kind of gear. But the reality of that is that we still have services that are going to depend on some on-prem systems,\u201d he said.\n \nFoundations to go forward\n \nRunning a cloud-first organisation comes with its own challenges, Morris said. One is how to deal with the flurry of added functionality and innovation coming from major cloud providers like Microsoft.\n\u201cThe difficulty for us is in choosing which activity to do first. Because we\u2019re a small-to-medium-sized IT shop, we\u2019ve only got limited bandwidth and capacity at any given time. We can bring in third parties but that too requires an overhead. It\u2019s deciding what to do first, and trying to match that with the delivery expectation of the organisation,\u201d Morris said.\n \nThere\u2019s also the new consumption models involved.\n \n\u201cUnderstanding how the economics of it work is equally as important,\u201d Morris added.\n \nBut the move is enabling a \u201cwhole new era\u201d for the IT team, now with the ability to deliver value to MBS, respond rapidly to user expectations, and drive a \u201cdata driven and analytics infused culture\u201d.\nThe cloud effort, once complete, will be just the beginning, Morris said.\n \n\u201cThere\u2019s some bedrock you have to lay down first around the way you manage data, identity and security, and the way you deliver management systems. It\u2019s off the basis of that you can really go forward,\u201d he said.