Amazon Web Services: digital innovation in higher educationHow LSE built the case for cloud migration

How LSE built the case for cloud migration

The London School of Economics and Political Science launched a cloud migration despite the challenges of the pandemic. Chief information officer Laura Dawson explains how a broad-ranging stakeholder engagement programme helped the project run smoothly

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) wanted to ensure that the way it stored and accessed research data was “built by academics, for academics”.  

Several years ago, it put on-site computing capacity in place to store research data, but often found this to be limited. “Data for research bursts at certain points when people need it for a short time and then not,” explained chief information officer Laura Dawson. “If we needed more storage or power, we’d have to buy it. Our academics wanted more flexibility of service.”

In a conversation hosted by Times Higher Education and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Dawson outlined the university’s migration to a cloud service. Dawson explained why it was important to get buy-in from all parties that would contribute to or use the service. It was critical that data providers were satisfied that their personal and sensitive data would be secure, without creating a sense that data was “owned” by IT when it was for the benefit of academic research. 

“Our project committee was made up of academics who deal in health data and we discussed where ownership should sit. If it’s centralised in IT, it ends up a long way away from stakeholders and consumers, so you want to create a bit of a bridge,” she said. As such, Dawson and her team take a strong project management role, “engaging with stakeholders, gathering requirements, prioritising them into a pipeline that can be delivered”, she said. 

The shift to blended learning created by the pandemic will help drive the cultural change needed for the migration to be successful. “We can use what we’ve learnt from hybrid teaching and look at hybrid research,” Dawson said. “We can create virtual collaborative spaces more permanently, and that needs to be cloud-based.”

Watch the interview with LSE on demand above or on the THE Connect YouTube channel.

Find out how LSE and other universities migrated Moodle to the AWS Cloud, and the benefits achieved.

Brought to you by