digitaledge50_honoree_2017Fordham’s Department of Information Technology was honored on Dec. 14 as a Digital Edge 50 award winner for its project, “Customer-First Cloud Strategy.”

The award, which was bestowed by the technology media, data and marketing services company IDG, was given to organizations engaged in “highly significant projects, impressive business results, and superior collaboration among stakeholders.”

Frank Sirianni, Ph.D., vice president and chief information officer at Fordham, said the cloud strategy involved the forging of a partnership with the firm Ellucian to move the University’s enterprise administrative systems (including enrollment, financial aid, human resources, finance, alumni development, and advancement) from 160 internally managed servers to Amazon Web Services.

“When we did this, we became a fully hosted and managed client. This pioneering effort was the first of its kind for Ellucian and Fordham IT, and resulted in an innovative model for enterprise system implementation and management to be used by other higher education institutions,” he said.

The move made it possible for IT staff to expand their expertise and transition from back-end roles in programming and infrastructure to front-facing, community-oriented ones. Instead of devoting resources to caring for equipment, they were free to place greater emphasis on providing service to the University community.

“Our move to the cloud made our organization more responsive to our community and the University’s broader, Jesuit-based mission, which is transforming education through caring for the whole person. We take that mission seriously,” Sirianni said.

“Moving our systems to managed cloud servers means we no longer need staff to attend to building servers, writing reports, doing backups, recovery and business continuity, and so on. Twelve staff members now have completely new roles in areas such as analytics, business analysts, vendor and cloud vendor management, solution integration, and contract negotiation. Staff also spends more time collaborating with faculty and students to further the university’s teaching and research mission.”

The partnership with Ellucian is unique for academic institutions, and Sirianni said he’s especially proud of the fact that the cloud computing strategy has lead to a software-as-a- service (SaaS) development partner group that includes four other institutions. The goal of the new group is to help other institutions of higher learning replicate this new customer-oriented model.

“Such a model will bring higher education institutions in alignment with the technology demands of students, faculty and staff, now and in the future,” he said.


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham NOW. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.